Published 2 years ago.
About a 5 minute read.
Image: Chris LeBoutillier/Pexels
Almost 1,000 companies have already adopted 1.5°C-aligned, science-based targets — now, we need governments to harness this momentum and work to provide clarity for companies that are ready to accelerate their climate action with equally ambitious policies and incentives.
The 26th United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26 — Oct 31-Nov 12,
2021) will bring together governments and regulators to update their plans for
reducing global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in order to get runaway climate
change under control. And while all eyes are on the outcome of COP26, the good
news is that a growing number of companies have already begun to do their
While the gaining momentum of companies committing to net-zero carbon or even
is reason for hope; the truth is that there is no net zero without addressing
or value chain emissions — which make up 90
of corporate GHG contributions.
As it stands today, there are internationally accepted methods to quantify,
measure and even set targets to reduce Scope 3
but this is voluntary and proves to be challenging at scale. Consumer goods
companies or retailers can have over 100,000 suppliers — it’s no wonder that
this makes their Scope 3 emissions infinitely harder to monitor and
than emissions under their direct control.
Without global regulation on how companies must report on or account for their
progress, companies that are enabling emissions reductions with their suppliers
or customers have limited guidance to determine whether they are reasonably, and
credibly, accounting for the positive impacts they are realizing.
With a lot of grey areas, everyone writing their own rules, and no central
authorities to enforce this, how can we know which companies are making
meaningful efforts to reduce their footprint?
Voluntary commitments have been critical: Almost 1,000 companies have already
adopted 1.5°C-aligned, science-based
— but they now need to be supported with equally ambitious policies and
We need governments to harness this momentum and work to provide clarity for
companies that are ready to accelerate their climate
Regulators must push forward ambitious policies that will incentivise action at
scale, and ensure that the leaders of today are recognised for stepping up!
In the absence of global regulation, none of these challenges can be addressed
by a single actor — we need leaders from every constituency (regulators, civil
society, companies) to come together to define best practice, especially in
sectors where there is only voluntary action and commitments (for now).
The next-best solution, then, is for companies and civil society to come
together proactively to collectively define best practice while working towards
achieving their science-based targets. This is exactly what The Value Change
Initiative, co-founded by SustainCERT
and The Gold
has set out to achieve.
What started as a working group in 2018 has since amassed the support of more
than 60 companies — including
PepsiCo, Danone and
Rabobank — working alongside civil society actors such as World Wildlife
Fund (WWF) and World Resources Institute (WRI), and 130 technical
As a growing collective, our ambition is to create an even landscape when
accounting for Scope 3 projects and interventions, so companies can “compare
apples with apples” — and ensure that claims about carbon reductions achieved in
value chains can be trusted; are not overstated or double counted; and are
credibly assigned to footprints, targets and other partners in the value chain.
Right now, we are all clear on why we need to act and what needs to be
but what is missing from conversations at COP26 is an agreement on the how —
on applicability and implementation.
Given the urgency, the “how” challenges are increasingly important to solve; and
however messy it is, we need to find solutions. Recognizing the challenge, WRI’s
Cynthia Cummis, who was involved in the development of the Greenhouse Gas
Protocol Scope 3
And while modern supply chains are long, complex and often obscure, she outlined
just how achievable this goal is — if we work together:
What I am hoping for from COP26, then, is clarity on how to accelerate toward
net-zero emissions with clear incentives for those taking early action. However,
I also recognize that we cannot let this complex landscape be an excuse for
Whatever it takes, the challenge of ‘how to net zero’ must be addressed because
confusion and a lack of coherency is creating barriers to meaningful action. It
also means investors are flying blind when looking for where their capital can
make a difference, and this is discouraging scale and speed - something we so
desperately need to remain on a 1.5 pathway.
UN Secretary-General António Guterres has called 2021 “a
make-or-break year for the
and he’s right. We don’t have time on our side. And if we don’t want net zero to
become an empty shell, we need to finally tackle the complicated challenge that
is Scope 3 emissions.
Corporate leaders are showing that lack of regulation is no excuse for inaction,
but corporations alone won’t solve the crisis. It’s now time for governments to
Published Oct 25, 2021 8am EDT / 5am PDT / 1pm BST / 2pm CEST
Sandra Genee is Head of Commercial and Partnerships at SustainCERT and Head of its new Value Change Initiative.