Find your partner
Your ambition may require extra hands. Validate your claim with external experts.
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Why you should take this stepGoing carbon neutral requires a wide range of expertise – from greenhouse gas (GHG) accounting, carbon reduction and renewable energy options, to carbon offsetting. Each workstream is a discipline in its own right! External partners can help you streamline going carbon neutral, allowing you to spend more time on other crucial components, such as engagement (see Step 5).
Benefits of appointing an external partner
- Experience and expertise
- Outside view
- Additional ‘hands on deck’
- Mentoring and training
- External validation of your achievement
Where to lookA quick search online will reveal the wide range of partners available! Climate consultancies often attend sustainability conferences, so use this opportunity to meet potential partners. Before selecting a partner, understand their service offer, technical capability and working style. Specialized climate consultancies can support your full program, or different partners can take on specific workstreams. If your pledge is ambitious, consider a partner who has worked with other ambitious companies.
TipFinding the right partner can feel like navigating through a jungle! Your choice of partner should ultimately be determined by what you are able (or want) to do yourself and which activities you need help with.
Qualities partners can be measured on
- Expertise and experience
- Carbon offset portfolios
- Global coverage
Consider your needsThere is a somewhat blurry pool of consultancies that claim to be experts in the full range of climate action programs. In reality, most agencies will be strong in one or two areas, and they may work with partners to cover the rest. As your carbon neutrality drive matures and grows, you may require different types of external support. Take a few moments to assess your current needs.
Can you construct your carbon footprint yourself?
Even if you are able to construct your carbon footprint yourself, you may still want external partners to scrutinize and further refine your data and processes. If you are confident in your accounting and have expert resources in-house, consider a third-party to verify your carbon neutrality pledge and ensure credibility. Make sure your data and processes are fully auditable.
Greenhouse gas accounting is a highly technical process. Unless you have prior experience with measuring your emissions, you should consider a partner with in-depth knowledge of greenhouse gas accounting and reporting frameworks. They can guide you through the process and teach you how to build a self-sustaining program over time.
Do you have in-house experts to lead your emission reduction efforts?
If you already have the experience and expertise required to reduce your emissions, you may choose not to sign external help for this part of your carbon neutrality pledge. However, you must remain critical of your business practices and try to take on an outside perspective when looking for how to improve. Find out what other companies are doing, to expand your view.
Reducing emission may require process or site audits and advanced analysis. Invest in experts who can help identify potential savings. For example, an external energy efficiency expert can find ways to optimize energy use (and reveal savings that pay their own fee). Sometimes reducing emissions requires upfront investment. Utilize your business case to show the long-term returns.
Is your in-house team ready and able to switch to renewable energy?
You are quite advanced, well done! Remember to account for local differences in the energy market. The regulations that apply in one geography are not necessarily the same as in the neighboring country. In addition, several renewable energy options require thorough knowledge regarding the development of energy markets and prices.
Consider a partner with strong experience in Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs), Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs) or on-site renewable energy installations (e.g., solar or wind power). Partners for on-site installations usually specialize in that field. Due to stark differences in regulations between countries, your best bet may be a partner located in the country where you operate.
Do you need support with selecting carbon credits?
Consider a partner with a strong carbon offset portfolio. The process for purchasing carbon credits is straightforward, but you need to choose from a plethora of credit options. Seek guidance to ensure the carbon offsets you acquire come from projects that fit your specific requirements, for instance the type of project, its environmental or social benefits and the highest verification standards.
You clearly have a lot of knowledge about carbon credits already! Keep in mind you may benefit from buying credits through an expert climate consultancy that sources credits for other clients as well. They will usually be able to secure better prices due to the combined volume.
Do you want your partner to proactively help develop your program?
Consultancy capabilities vary when it comes to working as your strategic partner and sounding board, developing your program and offering proactive advice. Aim for a partner with a record of working with other sustainability leaders and check their references. Be aware that offering strategic and proactive advice is at the high-end of the service spectrum and may require extra budget.
Becoming carbon neutral is, in itself, an ambitious emission reduction program and shows you are on the frontlines of sustainable business development. There’s nothing wrong with simply signing a partner who will help you with specific carbon neutrality workstreams, but not develop your program further unless you ask.