Smart Energy Voices- Episode 28

Smart Energy Voices- Episode 28

Addressing Residual Emissions on the Path to Net Zero

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Not all ideas for reducing carbon emissions are created equal - what works well for one company won’t work for another. So how does a company start on the path to clean energy? SED’s Debra Chanil talks with Stephanie Harris about that very issue. Stephanie Harris is a Director on 3Degrees’ Carbon Markets team where she helps organizations create customized plans for climate action. For over 15 years, 3Degrees has been helping companies strategically establish and achieve their carbon emission goals. Listen in as they discuss this practical approach to reducing residual emissions.

You will want to hear this episode if you are interested in...

  • Defining residual emissions [2:45]
  • How are companies addressing residual emissions? [5:50]
  • Goals that make sense for your organization [7:50]
  • The portfolio approach to reducing residual emissions [10:40]
  • The challenges of net-zero [12:45]
  • 2020’s impact on the voluntary carbon market [15:35]

Why are residual emissions important on the path to zero?

Residual emissions refer to any emissions that remain unabated when an organization has reached net zero in line with limiting warming to 1.5°C. Often these emissions are from sources out of a company’s direct control. For example, transportation of goods is frequently managed by an outside company. How can a company affect change in an area where they have little influence? This is where carbon credits, also called carbon offsets, come into play.

Purchasing carbon credits provides an opportunity for companies to support emission reduction or removal projects to immediately address their Scope 1 and 3 emissions. 3Degrees helps organizations build a portfolio of high-quality, third-party verified carbon offset projects that are meaningful to their businesses and have proven additionality and quantifiable greenhouse gas (GHG) reductions. By leveraging these tools, organizations can make an immediate impact on areas of their businesses that would otherwise be difficult to address. Carbon credits are an effective tool for companies to incorporate into a broader GHG reduction strategy in an effort to achieve net zero emissions by 2050 or sooner. Organizations can and should do everything in their power to reduce as much as possible, as quickly as possible. Carbon credits are an important tool to compensate for what remains.

Important considerations for investing in carbon reduction/removal projects

While there are many considerations when deciding which carbon projects to support, 3Degrees outlines some of the most important criteria that organizations should evaluate when developing a GHG reduction strategy. Cost is a common consideration when investing in carbon offset projects - the plan must be affordable to be useful. The project location is also an important consideration. Is the offset project in a location relevant to the buyer’s headquarters or operations? The company must also consider how this investment could impact members of its community. Project co-benefits are additional benefits beyond a reduction in GHG emissions and are often a motivational factor for investment and an effective tool for engaging stakeholders. Co-benefits such as air quality, social impact, habitat protection, and biodiversity can result from carbon offset projects. Organizations interested in supporting carbon offset projects must determine the co-benefits that are most meaningful to them.

Making a difference now

A growing number of organizations are making ambitious climate commitments, including setting net zero goals. While significant progress is being made towards achieving these commitments, the road to net zero is often a lengthy one, so it’s important for companies to also take action to mitigate the impact of their emissions in the near term. By investing in carbon reduction and removal projects as part of a broader GHG reduction strategy, organizations can reduce their carbon footprint today while supporting a longer-term transition to net zero emissions.

Resources mentioned in today's episode

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Connect with Stephanie Harris

Stephanie Harris is a Director on 3Degrees’ Carbon Markets team, where she is responsible for managing the company’s voluntary carbon offset portfolio. Stephanie first joined 3Degrees in 2015 as a REC Trader on the Environmental Markets team. She shifted over to the Carbon Markets team in 2018 and has been instrumental in crafting customized portfolios to help corporate sustainability leaders address their Scope 1 and Scope 3 emissions and achieve their climate goals.

Prior to joining 3Degrees, Stephanie completed a Master’s Degree in Environmental Science and Management at the University of California, Santa Barbara, where she also obtained a dual Bachelor’s Degree in Environmental Science and Communication. Her studies provided a strong foundation in renewable energy policy and energy conservation.

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