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New Guidance Helps Every Company Function Be a Net-Zero Hero

While sustainability professionals may lead in setting net-zero targets and driving climate-action plans, it takes collaboration across every business function to enable the transformation needed to achieve net zero.

When the Transform to Net Zero (TONZ) companies came together in 2020 to share their business transformation to inspire other companies, they recognized the need to support the non-sustainability functions that need to adapt to achieve net-zero emissions.

Whilst sustainability professionals may take the lead in setting net-zero targets and driving climate-action plans, it takes collaboration across every business function to enable the transformation needed to achieve net-zero emissions.

From the start, TONZ decided to publish guidance specifically for non-sustainability functions — so that everyone can be a net-zero hero.

Transform to Net Zero is a cross-sector initiative aimed at accelerating the transition to an inclusive, net-zero global economy — with a goal of achieving it no later than 2050. The initiative formed in July 2020 with Danone, Maersk, Mercedes-Benz, Microsoft, Natura &Co, Nike, Starbucks, Unilever, Wipro and Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) as founding members; with BSR serving as Secretariat. HSBC joined in 2022; and GSK and Ørsted joined in 2023.

Roadmaps for every function

In March 2023, Mercedes-Benz became the latest TONZ member to publish its Climate-Transition Action Plan, which outlines the steps to achieve the set short-term and long-term goals on the road to net carbon neutrality — the company’s Ambition 2039.

“We have set ambitious goals for Mercedes-Benz’s production sites as we aim to reduce CO₂ emissions by 80 percent by 2030, compared to 2018,” explains Jana Krägenbring-Noor, Head of Group Environmental Protection, Energy Management and Sustainability at Mercedes-Benz. “The share of renewable energies is to be expanded significantly and cover more than 70 percent of the energy demand in our own production sites by 2030. However, it’s not just production sites that are decarbonizing.

“Our other divisions are also continuously working on decarbonizing their own remits. In the supply chain, the company has integrated target values into the criteria for award processes in order to reduce CO₂ emissions. The sales organization also has a roadmap to support sales partners worldwide in the transformation to net carbon neutrality. In logistics, the aim is to avoid and reduce CO2 emissions through process optimization. An important factor is the switch from road to rail, wherever economically possible.”

Supporting procurement functions to reach net-zero goals

Transform to Net Zero’s first Transformation Guide, Buyer-Supplier Engagement to Reduce Upstream Scope 3 Emissions, focused on how procurement teams can engage and support suppliers to reduce upstream Scope 3 emissions.

Unilever shared its supplier-engagement activities, including its supplier segmentation and prioritization approach.

“We needed to develop an encompassing approach that covers all of our upstream value chain, while at the same time identifying where to focus for maximum impact,” said Thomas Lingard, Global Head of Sustainability (Environment) at Unilever. “We mapped the materials with the biggest greenhouse gas emissions impact, where they were in the value chain, and our primary suppliers of these materials. We were able to identify the 300 suppliers that contribute a meaningful share of our upstream scope 3 emissions, and with whom we should work as a priority.”

Following a successful pilot last year, Unilever is now scaling up its work with these priority suppliers to help them measure, share and ultimately reduce the greenhouse gas emissions of their products.

Offering more guidance for procurement and supply chain teams, the first of the Here’s How NOW video series details how Danone and EDF are working together on Danone’s global action plan to reduce absolute methane emissions from its fresh milk supply chain by 30 percent by 2030 — with guidance for setting methane-reduction targets and engaging with dairy suppliers.

Later this year, TONZ will publish its Supplier Transformation Framework to support companies in evaluating the current climate maturity of their suppliers and the steps they should take to help them advance towards their net-zero-aligned goals. The first framework of its kind, it follows extensive research into how the Transform to Net Zero companies engage with their suppliers to reduce Scope 3 emissions.

A net-zero approach to innovation

In the Innovating Net-Zero Products and Services Transformation Guide, Wipro described how it develops new products and services based on less carbon-intensive business models through circular supply chains, waste recovery and recycling, and product lifecycle extension.

Teams across Wipro work towards a shared goal that has been set at the leadership level: Product innovation should promote progress toward customers’ net-zero emission goals.

“Teams work in collaboration to develop product and service offerings calibrated to each specific client. For instance, engineering and R&D teams collaborate with design teams to create a connected value chain in which sustainability solutions integrate with technology and infrastructure, enabling customers to use data to measure their carbon footprints more seamlessly,' says Susan Kenniston, Global Head and VP of Sustainability at Wipro.

Engaging policymakers on climate policy

In the Climate Policy Engagement Transformation Guide, Transform to Net Zero members provided examples and guidance to support Corporate and Government Affairs functions to engage with policymakers on climate policy.

Maersk is currently engaging with policymakers on clean shipping fuels. Maersk’s first vessel able to run on renewable methanol — a feeder vessel with 2,100 TEU (20-foot-equivalent unit) capacity — will be in the water beginning in September. 18 ocean-going vessels of 16,000-17,000 TEU capacity, able to run on renewable methanol, are scheduled for delivery in 2024 and 2025. The challenge now is to scale the production of clean methanol at a competitive price, as in most cases it is several times the cost of fossil fuel. To boost the growing clean-energy market and close the cost gap, Maersk needs the right global regulation in place.

The Public Policy and Regulatory Affairs team at Maersk urges member states at the International Maritime Organisation to agree on a global greenhouse gas price to make fossil fuels less attractive; to approve a global fuel standard that secures the production and use of new clean shipping fuels; and ultimately, to introduce a moratorium on the production of fossil-fueled-only vessels.

As the transition to a net-zero economy will take commitment and behavioral change from companies, suppliers and consumers alike, it’s clear that there’s a role for everyone to be a net-zero hero.


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