Dan Barlow, Head of Innovation Policy and Founder of Our 2050 World and Emily Faint, Net Zero Policy Manager at BSI, and Policy and Engagement Lead for Our 2050 World
The term “Net Zero” is well understood at a global level, but how organizations contribute to achieving this global net zero target remains confusing for many. Initiatives and frameworks are popping up all over the world and governments, businesses and cities continue to grapple with this fast evolving and increasingly crowded landscape. Our 2050 World – a collaboration between ISO, the UN Race to Zero and the UNFCCC Global Innovation Hub – which is convened by BSI, is seeking to bring much-needed clarity to this space through today’s launch of the Net Zero Guidelines.
The science is clear – we must heed the IPCC’s stark warnings and the UN Secretary-General’s comments at COP27 this week “the world is on a highway to climate hell with our foot still on the accelerator”.
Since COP26 last year, the conversation has rapidly moved from “what should we do?” to “how fast can we do it?” at what is being regarded as ‘the implementation COP’.
As a result, individual organizations are increasingly under pressure to demonstrate how they will achieve net zero targets. But how do organizations understand what good net zero action looks like? How can those that create guidance, such as governments and other rule-setting bodies, be confident that their guidance is aligned to a robust global approach to net zero that the world needs?
In just three months, Our 2050 World convened more than 1,200 organizations and individuals to develop the Net Zero Guidelines through the international standards system. Using the agile and consensus-led International Workshop Agreement (IWA) process on the ISO platform, major players in the climate action space, policymakers, business, civil society and others developed a single core reference text for credible net zero action.
This guidance document offers actors at every level a single document covering each stage of net zero action, from target setting, use of offsets, reporting and communication, and, crucially, embeds important and often under-represented areas of consideration. These include areas such as fair share and equity in decision-making and considering wider impacts on nature and biodiversity. The document consolidates this existing best practice into one place and signposts users to other major initiatives for further information and methodology.
Organizations that create guidance for others can use the Net Zero Guidelines as a reference to cross-check their own initiatives and revise them to reflect the rigour and breadth of considerations needed. Others who have not begun their net zero and would like to know where to seek guidance can use the Net Zero Guidelines as a starting point for building a credible net zero action plan.
We hope that policymakers will read the recommendations in this document, assess how their own evolving net zero guidance compares, and revise as needed. The UN Secretary General has been clear – all should “update their guidelines…certainly no later than COP28” to reflect the urgency needed to increase the rigour and ambition of net zero action.
Paths to net zero will naturally vary between countries, industries, and individual organizations, however by aligning all actors to a common global approach, the Net Zero guidelines can offer the common baseline for action that the world needs. This can help leaders chart their course, no matter where their country or industry is starting from and ensure we all arrive at the same destination in time.
- Find our more about how our 2050 world can accelerate the transition to net zero using standards
- Discover how UK businesses are managing the transition to net zero in BSI's Net Zero Barometer