If your organisation is measuring its carbon emissions, and taking action to reduce them, you are playing an important role in New Zealand’s transition to a low-emissions economy.
You have also laid the groundwork for long-term cost savings and are future-proofing your business by staying ahead of regulation.
By being transparent about your sustainability journey, you can build brand value and gain a competitive advantage with consumers who are becoming increasingly climate conscious.
Stay on track
Keep up the momentum by ensuring you are collecting and evaluating your data regularly. Monitoring your progress monthly allows you to see whether you are on track to meet your annual targets – and to make adjustments if necessary.
Consider holding your business accountable to your targets by publishing your annual emissions report on your website.
We know that our employees and customers are invested in our journey, and it is important that we share our sustainability strengths and also the areas we need to improve on. We are not perfect and our customers appreciate that honesty.
What good carbon reporting looks like
Good carbon reporting involves clear communication of your annual emissions profile to stakeholders, such as investors, customers, employees, and the public, using accessible and understandable language.
- Accurate — The reported data should be based on robust and credible methodologies, calculations, and data sources.
- Transparent — Your report should include clear and detailed information on the emissions, data sources, calculation methods, and assumptions used.
- Complete — Good carbon reporting covers all relevant scopes of emissions, including direct emissions (Scope 1), indirect emissions from purchased electricity (Scope 2), and other indirect emissions from the value chain (Scope 3).
- Consistent — Keep your data sources and reporting consistent over time to allow for meaningful year-on-year comparisons and trend analysis.
- Contextualised — Provide context to your report by including relevant information about your organisation's emissions reduction targets, and progress towards those targets.
Get your emissions report verified
Having your emissions report verified is an option to provide assurance of the accuracy and reliability of the reported data. This will help you to make claims about your sustainability credentials without risking ‘greenwash’.
‘Greenwashing’ is when you make environmental claims about your business that don’t stack up. The Commerce Commission offers guidelines to help you stay on the right side of the Fair Trading Act: Environmental claims(external link)
If you opt for verification, be sure to look for a reputable, independent organisation that has a good understanding of international reporting standards such as ISO 14064 and the GHG Protocol.
Verification will be part of the process if you decide to get certification. Certification comes with a label that can be used for marketing purposes, to show the level of climate action your organisation is taking.
The Ministry for the Environment (MfE) publishes guidelines for organisations that wish to voluntarily report their greenhouse gas emissions. These guidelines align with the international standards ISO 14064-1 and the GHG Protocol.
Earn carbon certification
You can achieve carbon certification to recognise whatever stage you are at on your emissions reduction journey. There are certifications available to New Zealand organisations to show your business is:
- Managing emissions — you have measured your carbon footprint and are actively managing your emissions.
- Offsetting emissions — you are taking steps to offset emissions from business activities.
- Carbon neutral — you have offset all your emissions to achieve carbon neutral or carbon zero status.
- Reducing emissions — you are taking steps to reduce your absolute emissions (not just offsetting).
- Climate positive — you are actively reducing your absolute emissions and offsetting more than your emissions balance to achieve climate positive status.
Offset your emissions
Offsetting is when you purchase carbon credits to support emissions reduction or sequestration projects somewhere else, to compensate for your own emissions. A carbon credit represents a reduction of one metric ton of carbon dioxide (or an equivalent amount of other greenhouse gases). Carbon sequestration is the removal of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, for example through photosynthesis by plants and trees. For offsetting to be effective, it’s important that the action taken is measurable and verified, permanent, and can’t be double used.
The Ministry for the Environment publishes guidelines for climate change mitigation and offsetting.
The guidance states that claims of undertaking voluntary climate change mitigation should only be made after an organisation has measured their own emissions, committed to an emissions reductions plan, and is taking action to reduce their emissions in accordance with their plan.
Larger decarbonisation projects
Decarbonisation projects are those aligned to reducing your Scope 1 (directly controlled) emissions, and involve switching away from fossil fuels. An example might be swapping a coal boiler for a heat pump, or converting it to run off biomass (wood). Another example could be upgrading your fleet to electric vehicles.
These large projects offer substantial payback in terms of emissions savings and long-term cost savings, but because they require significant upfront investment they can be hard to get off the ground. Understanding the co-benefits of decarbonisation can help you build a strong business case. Your project may also be eligible for co-funding.
Use your climate credentials for brand building
If you’re making good progress in emissions reduction, let your customers and stakeholders know, and be transparent about your journey. New Zealanders want businesses to reduce their carbon footprint.
Sharing your journey is good for your brand, and for encouraging other businesses to take action too – after all, we’re all in this together.
- Publish your progress — No journey is perfect, but transparency builds trust. Make sure your environmental claims are substantiated, and if your climate credentials are verified and certified, use them to build your reputation and raise the standards for other businesses.
- Demonstrate the benefits — Participate in membership associations and industry bodies to show sector leadership, and encourage other businesses to take action.
- Share your learnings — Support other businesses to learn from your journey and replicate your actions more quickly.
You don't have to go it alone when it comes to embarking on, or continuing, your sustainable business journey. Finding the right help can make all the difference.
You can access training and resources through organisations like the Sustainable Business Network. Many New Zealand businesses get support with emissions measurement and management through a certification company such as Toitū or Ekos.