10 point plan for scaleup decarbonisation to reach net zero 

Tech Nation, November 23, 2022 5 min read

Tech companies in the UK have the collective power to drive emissions down by 81.8m tonnes a year, reveals a new report.

This checklist shows you how:

  1. Commit to a net zero action plan

Measure your emissions yourself using online tools and resources:

Set science-based targets:

  • If you are a larger company (500+ employees), set your target through the Science-based Targets Initiative (SBTi) to align your actions with environmental science.
  • If you are a smaller company, aim to at least halve your emissions across all scopes by 2030. You can also set targets with help from a carbon accountancy.
  • Look at your emissions measurements and identify what contributes the most CO2.
  • Assess how you could reduce these emissions, and lay these solutions out in terms of time, effort and impact.
  • Set interim targets, including what actions you’ll take in the next 12 months, the next 2-3 years, and by 2030.
  • Sign-up to Tech Zero to receive support on your net zero journey and hold yourself accountable for your net zero commitments
  1. Commit to net zero aligned offices

Making sure your office is a low-emission space is a fundamental part of your net zero strategy.

Net zero aligned offices should:

  • Use 100% renewable energy (ideally generated on-site through solar panels, for example, but it can also be by purchasing renewable energy from a provider)
  • Ensure AC systems are well maintained, and are topped up with refrigerants with low Global Warming Potentials
  • Be highly energy efficient as possible – for example, by using climate control facilities 
  • Measure emissions, and having a clear reduction strategy
  • Have a comprehensive recycling, compost and zero waste policy
  • Use sustainable materials in construction

You can:

  • Prepare an email to send out to your building manager or request a meeting, asking whether they have a net zero strategy in place and actions they have taken (in accordance with the above).
  • If the landlord has no intention to switch;
    • Request energy use break-down or estimates that cover your use within the building
    • Explore purchasing REGOS and RGGOs from TheBigCleanSwitch
    • Consider moving to a more sustainable office space 
  1. Commit to green pensions

The average pension finances 23 tonnes of CO2 emissions every year, so choosing the right pension can be a powerful tool in the fight against climate change. 

  • Sign up to the green pensions charter. According to the green pensions guide, pension funds should:
    • Target net zero across its portfolio and halve emissions by 2030
    • Invest in climate solutions
    • Divest from companies that are not reducing emissions 
  • Set up a meeting with your pension provider and ensure the default fund for your employees is covered by a net zero target. 
  • If it isn’t covered by a net zero target, look to switch providers. MakeMyMoneyMatter can help you understand the impact of your pension fund and communicate with them if necessary.
  1. Reduce meat consumption

It doesn’t have to be an “all or nothing” approach; small changes can add up over time.

  • Meat consumption has an outsized negative impact on the environment: a meat-based diet produces double the carbon emissions of a vegetarian one.
  • Discuss practical next steps with your operations team e.g., purchasing more plant-based foods and milks for your office.
  • Arrange a lunch and learn or opt-in discussion to educate your team
  • Run a survey or discussion to gather employee opinion and engagement potential
  1. Review your business travel

The way a company travels can significantly impact their level of emissions.

  • Promote virtual meetings and invest in digital tools (Miro, Fellow etc.) and training that will make remote meetings more productive.
  • A train-first policy is recommended for all companies. 
  • Optimise unavoidable travel: Try to include numerous relevant meetings within a single trip
  • Implement a 1-person travel policy for longer flights e.g., only send the most relevant team member to a conference 
  • Optimise unavoidable travel: Try to include numerous relevant meetings within a single trip.
  • Promote virtual meetings and invest in digital tools (Miro, Fellow etc.) and training that will make remote meetings more productive.
  • Implement an ‘essential only’ travel policy for longer flights e.g., only send the most relevant team member to a conference.
  1. Engage with your suppliers

Within the tech sector, 80 – 100% of companies’ emissions come from their suppliers. 

  • Identify the suppliers that significantly contribute to your footprint
  • Prepare an email that asks them:
    • If they have measured their emissions (and which emissions sources are included). If they haven’t, suggest companies or resources they can use
    • What their net zero target is, if they have one
    • Details of their carbon reduction and removal strategy
  • Draft a procurement policy that requires suppliers to measure their footprint by 2024 and have a net zero target by 2025.
  1. Reduce digital emissions 

While we don’t typically associate the online world with being unsustainable, collectively, digital emissions today – produced by just visiting a website or sending an email – account for more than the global aviation industry, accounting for 4% of global emissions. 

  • Wholegrain Digital and Business Declares published the Digital Declutter Toolkit to specifically support companies measure and reduce their digital emissions. 
  • Clean out unused files from cloud storage drives and websites
  • Avoid storing the same files in multiple places
  • Select a cloud storage provider with a commitment to use 100% renewable energy
  1. Reduce hardware emissions

Companies can take action by reducing emissions associated with their hardware equipment, such as mobiles, laptops and monitors. 

  • Extend the life of devices. Set a goal to use your hardware for a minimum of four years before it’s retired and ensure your ops/IT team track against that metric 
  • Employ purchasing models with low environmental footprints, including refurbished items. When planning your hardware purchases, check product environmental reports e.g.Apple and Dell, and choose efficient options 
  • Consider purchasing refurbished laptops 
  • Work with professional repair services, to ensure long use of hardware
  1. Invest in carbon removals

Carbon removals come in two forms: natural solutions and technological solutions. Examples of natural solutions include afforestation, kelp farming, biochar and soil carbon sequestration. Technological solutions include direct air capture, which uses fans to filter carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and enhanced weathering.

  • Commit to a plan to invest in high-quality, long-term carbon removals, not avoidance offsets 
  • Set targets to increase the amount of long-term removals you purchase between now and your company’s net zero target year.
  • Use trusted sustainability services to ensure your purchases are high quality. For example:
    • Patch connects you to the largest marketplace for trusted carbon removal projects, including biochar, mineralisation, kelp sequestration and more.
    • Supercritical vet and exclusively sell high-quality carbon removal (from biochar to direct air capture) because it’s the only legitimate route to net zero.
    • Sylvera can help you verify your carbon offsets and give you a better idea of the effect they’re having on the planet. 
    • CUR8 works with nature and technological partners to build carbon removal portfolios that are durable and high quality.
  1. Take action now!

Achieving net zero will not happen overnight and no company can achieve net zero on their own. It requires collective action, since it covers every aspect of a company’s value chain. The key is to make a start and not to let the perfect be the enemy of the good.

How to, Carbon Calculation, Carbon Removal & Offsetting