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Mistakes To Avoid When Planning for Net-Zero


When setting your targets, objectives and deadlines to transition towards net-zero may have a clear end goal, but the drastic timescale for all businesses to meet these standards in accordance with the law by 2030 requires a huge amount of commitment, knowledge and productivity to get ahead of the game.

If you’re unfamiliar with widely-acknowledged processes to cut carbon emissions, then you’ll probably encounter problems along the way. 

...But you're really lucky that we've put together a list on how NOT to do net zero like a dummy.


Promises without publishing

One really common mistake businesses may make is underestimating the significance of a well-planned, researched strategy that's understood by all stakeholders.

Racing into commitments without a clear roadmap can lead to unattainable initiatives. Instead, you should seriously consider a step-by-step approach, based on monthly, quarterly and yearly targets, to help break up what might otherwise feel like an enormous workload.

Targets, dates, initiatives and deadlines are all a HUGE part of what will reinforce a public perception of transparency and accountability between a business and their customers, and reinforce confidence in the core values of the company.

Not to mention - nipping in the bud any awkward meetings with shareholders when things haven't gone to plan.

As the plan becomes more detailed, potential risks and vulnerabilities your business may encounter will begin to reveal themselves, where you can make the correct adjustments to avoid disasters.

As a result, businesses across the board will acquire more time to work on other pressing issues, such as the new coffee machine, logistics or rising energy costs.


Difficult terminology

When marketing or selling a product, you wouldn’t want to confuse the customer by overcomplicating things, would you?

Terminology can be ultra confusing to most people when announcing those net zero initiatives, and is only as relevant as the level of understanding of the listener. Therefore, the same goes for your net-zero strategy.

When pitching the process to a board of directors, or your hard-working staff members, it's easy to confuse your audience with new terms linked to fighting the climate crisis.

Let’s say you’re presenting strategies on carbon capturing, which the average person could easily confuse for carbon offsetting.

Educating your audience on your initiatives and the processes linked to them will help visualise the journey in practical terms, engaging the listener through education, which in turn will provide purpose.

Using terms with vague meanings and explanations poses a risk to the process at large, and could likely slow down real-time departmental processes, with the potential of incurring further costs in the long-term.

Furthermore, it risks alienating employees from being a constructive part of the process, and achieving the goal together. You may understand the initiatives, processes and steps to achieving a net zero model, but how can anyone else without the required worktime to do so?


A lack of responsibility

It’s all good and well saying you’re transitioning toward a greener future and net-zero, but that doesn’t necessarily translate into real term plans and action.

Remember, Shell and BP once committed to significant reductions in oil production of up to 40% by 2030 back in 2021. Yet that commitment has been quietly broken as oil production continues at standard rates.

Meanwhile, the UK Government has recently admitted that it will only hit 92% of 2030 targets, (unlikely). Both are widely deemed by NGOs and organisations as unreliable figureheads - and even climate killers.

However, your business doesn’t have to go too far to avoid brand-tarnishing reputations of ignorance and hypocrisy.

Small, defined initiatives will lay out clear and precise details of your action plan along with their deadlines, firmly committing themselves to an overall strategy, and proudly upholds a high degree of accountability and trust.

Beyond this, devoting independence and autonomy to departments that will ensure compliance allows regular oversights and updates into progress, preventing scenarios of short-sightedness and miscalculation in the long run.

After all, mistakes are not always initially found and discovering them later on will only incur costs and large-scale setbacks.


Ignoring third-party emissions

Touching back on terminology, not everybody knows what defines net-zero. Solely eliminating a company’s operating emissions is a great PR stunt, but can distort the image of how far you've actually gone in comparison to the promises made at the start of your net zero journey.

Scope 3 emissions incorporate all indirect greenhouse gases emitted as a result of your businesses' operations, and can be a tricky calculation when incorporating every aspect and process that makes up the business.

These indirect emissions can include but are not limited to: logistical chains, imports, leased facilities, transport and even as far as the end of life process for products. As difficult a process as this may seem at first glance, they are paramount to achieving net zero as these emissions typically make up 60-80% of a businesses' overall carbon footprint.

Certain sectors such as Construction, Facilities Management, Farming or even E-commerce will have to formulate a separate policies dedicated to eliminating hidden emissions, and as a result will require a high level of collaboration between companies to agree on how to reach these targets in accordance with one another's capabilities.

As scope 3 reporting is now expected to become mandatory here in the UK imminently – don’t fall behind prepping a dedicated team to collect the required data for a handover.


Going at it alone

As just 5% of FTSE100 companies are aligned with current targets - collaboration between SMEs and sole traders alike is truly our best asset. Ignoring it will only lower brand quality, transparency and could lead to impression of laziness.

As the giants fail to lead the way – where is the momentum for SMEs to follow suit?

Luckily, smaller businesses can collaborate to make the positive change required to prevent further climate change - without breaking the bank.

The SME Climate Hub is an organisation dedicated to providing easy-to-use tools. Free tools to allow your business to calculate emissions, and provides advice on how to make the right changes from start to finish, which can be backed by a wide range of case studies.

Beyond this, even large businesses have the ability to publicly pledge themselves to the UN’s ‘Race To Zero’ campaign, despite being too busy to do so.

The accessibility of intelligent technologies has transformed a company's ability to reduce its carbon footprint in recent years, and as a result many systems are now in place to assess energy consumption, CO2 tracking, and detect any areas of inefficiency within a business that would otherwise go unnoticed.


What did we just learn again?

With that all wrapped up, businesses will now truly understand how to make the requirements towards achieving a net-zero business model, avoiding the headaches that come with poor planning and mismanagement of your policies and action.

The first steps will make the biggest impact on the direction needed to set future policies, typically resulting in the reduction of your first-party emissions. Implementing IoT systems within your business space will allow you to identify excess energy usage, absurd temperatures and high levels of CO2. 

Book yourself a demo with one of our I-Systems today! Giving you the time you need to focus on the reforming the rest of your carbon emissions.