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Let’s Circle Back: Why Addressing Scope 3 Emissions is Key for Corporates

Not-so-fun fact: As we write this, greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, the primary drivers of climate change and its global impact, are growing. According to climate scientists, global carbon dioxide emissions must be cut by as much as 85 percent below 2000 levels by 2050 to limit global mean temperature increase to 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. Temperature rise above this level will produce increasingly unpredictable and dangerous impacts for people and ecosystems.  The need to reduce these emissions is getting more and more urgent.  
In the evolving discussions around climate action, it is becoming clearer and clearer that existing governmental policies may not be sufficient to solve the problem. To ensure sustained and realistic progress, leadership and innovation from the business world is of paramount importance.  
In addition to the obvious benefits that would come from corporate action against climate change, this also makes good business sense. Companies can find opportunities to strengthen their bottom line, find and alleviate risks and gain a competitive advantage within their domain.  
To embark on this journey, having a comprehensive climate strategy is key, and that starts with understanding the company’s footprint. Companies can then identify risks and opportunities and take action to see how their operations, value chains, and product portfolios can be adjusted to be more sustainable. For many companies, this means addressing their Scope 3 emissions, which cover all indirect emissions from activities of the organization, occurring from sources they do not own or control. These can include business travel, transportation, and distribution. 

Reducing scope 3 emissions is key for corporates.

At this point you might be wondering, ‘’What does it mean to have a fully-fledged Scope 3 plan?’’  
By developing a Scope 3 inventory of their emissions, companies can effectively manage emissions-related risks and opportunities. For some, this can also mean improved planning for potential future carbon regulations, guiding their corporate procurement decisions and product design. In addition to that, companies could also improve their social standing by fully understanding the impacts of their broader corporate value chain activities.  

Developing a solid understanding of their Scope 3 impact can also enable corporate teams to credibly communicate their plans to stakeholders, opening the door to a collective understanding of what their impact is and what they are planning to do to reduce the associated risks. Companies can also use the results of the scope 3 inventory to identify new market opportunities for producing and selling goods and services with lower GHG emissions. 

One such example of this approach is SkyNRG’s newest Board Now member, Boston Consulting Group (BCG). BCG’s commitment to sustainability is at the core of their corporate purpose, as they work globally to help organizations and governments tackle today’s most urgent challenges, while being on an ongoing mission to strengthen sustainable and ethical business practices within the organization itself. Seeing lower carbon air-travel as a vital part of achieving their net-zero goals under Scope 3, BCG set out on a partnership with SkyNRG to help develop the global market for Sustainable Aviation Fuel and to lower their business travel emissions, which typically make up ~80% of their footprint. Their aim is to reduce their business travel emissions by 48.5% per employee by 2025. 

Brian Sylvester, BCG’s Senior Sustainability Manager, comments:  

‘’A year ago, we set ourselves the ambition to become net zero by 2030 – among the first in our industry to do so. And beyond 2030, we are aiming to become climate positive by removing more carbon from the atmosphere than we would be emitting each year.Most of our footprint is from business travel – around 80%.  
We’ve been very keen to put the fundamentals of an effective corporate climate action program in place. We’ve drawn on the expertise and knowledge within the firm to create tools and to activate levers to help manage and drive emissions reductions.’’

Reducing scope 3 emissions is key for corporates.

Setting these targets and plans in place not only creates clarity around how companies can move forward with their climate ambitions by taking responsible and timely action for Scope 3 emissions, but also adds a layer of transparency onto their relationship with their teams and customers, creating a climate dialogue.  

Ryah Whalen, Director of Innovation at BCG, expands on it by saying:  

”At BCG, and I imagine also at many of the companies represented here today, the bar continues to rise in terms of what our employees want, as well as our customers, when it comes to what actions we are taking. We really want to make sure that we are being as bold and ambitious as possible in shaping and providing climate solutions for ourselves but also for others.‘’ 

It is encouraging to see large companies take clear and direct action by setting ambitious climate goals, as time is of the essence. By addressing Scope 3 emissions in a responsible way, corporate companies can make a difference for the future and bolster their operations with a more sustainable approach to providing value for society.  

If you would like to know more about how Scope 3 emissions can be effectively reduced, take a look at our blog on reducing corporate emissions with Sustainable Aviation Fuel