We need to speed up climate action

August 28, 2021

What the latest IPCC working group findings means for climate action

A clarification by Moritz Lehmkuhl


Already today we can observe the impact of climate change through weather and climate extremes such as droughts, heatwaves and heavy precipitation. The recent report of the IPCC Working Group finds that unless there are immediate, rapid and large-scale reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, limiting warming to close to 1.5°C or even 2°C will be beyond reach. The conclusion is clear, we need to act now to prevent disastrous impacts of climate change. The good news is that we still have ways to achieve this goal.

We can calculate the emissions of products and companies to develop effective reduction measures. And based on these findings, we help companies to bring down emissions and to offset any residual emissions that are unavoidable. However, IPCC´s report urges us all to be more ambitious and faster in doing so.

Speeding up the pace

In our work with over 4,000 companies we have developed clear and strict requirements over the past 15 years with close alignment to international standards. They define our work and methodology and allow for a reliable process our customers can count on. This includes the way we calculate and evaluate CO2 emissions within our carbon footprinting process, identify ways to bring down emissions where possible and conduct transparent and measurable offsets.

We regularly review it and adapt it to developments in science, standards and markets and also contribute with our expertise to the further development of such in various initiatives and organisations. Our key understanding is that it is crucial that companies offset their emissions already today and set clear reduction pathways to bring down their overall emissions.

We acknowledge the latest IPCC working group report AR6 as a mandate to further adapt our methodology and weighting of emissions factors in order to keep allignment towards a 1.5° goal. We will therefore adapt the factors of CO2 equivalents of different gases with the newest scientific findings of the IPCC report. We have to target 2030 instead of 2050 as the timeline for this, so we have to be stricter as we have less time than originally expected.

Carbon offsets – a key aspect in emissions management

The report also underlines the importance of removal technologies for carbon offset projects. In addition to technologies for emissions reduction and avoidance it is concluded that we also need removal projects that will sequester greenhouse gases on a large scale. Carbon avoidance is for example the protection of existing forests, whereas carbon reduction covers projects to distribute efficient cookstoves, enable clean drinking water or to support renewable energies. Carbon removal projects typically include afforestation, mangroves or biochar.

The report also brings into context what this means for a company´s net zero or carbon neutral strategy. Whereas removal technologies are the only technology accepted to follow the net zero goal and to offset any residual emissions defined by the science based targets, the carbon neutral way accepts a broader carbon reduction path and covers all three technologies.

This project trilogy of impact – reduction, avoidance and removal – can be leveraged through carbon offset projects financed by carbon-neutral products and companies. As companies and society need to take on climate action even further, faster and with more ambition, we at ClimatePartner are ready to provide the respective means for it. Learn more about what you can do in this regard in our Climate Academy sessions, addressing topics such as Green Energy, SBTs & net zero as well as COP26 & reduction strategies.