The value of industry collaboration in the drive towards science-based carbon emission reductions

If 2020 has taught us anything, it’s that it genuinely does take a village to solve a widespread problem. With the present level of climate change risk now at such scale, more and more companies are taking action whether through a net zero commitment, the Science Based Targets initiative or otherwise. The science is very clear, there are no industry or governmental boundaries where responsibilities can begin and end. The accountability firmly falls upon every one of us, across every sector, to play our part in contributing to the solution. For some companies, acting in isolation can provide industry advantage demonstrating leadership and commitment. For others, a collective approach delivers a more valuable and achievable solution. The effects fall upon us all, and the need to meet science-based emission reduction recommendations, has never been greater.

As the global agenda converges and the scientific community defines the necessary pathway for emissions reduction, Australian industries are beginning to play their part. Many sectors are starting to consider how they can use their collective resources for positive change. The timber industry, led by National Institute for Forest Products Innovation (NIFPI) and Timberlink, recently recognised the growing demand for low-carbon solutions and seized the opportunity to lead from the front. Partnering with Edge, together we developed free resources and tools that can help the Australian timber sector easily undertake carbon footprinting and science-based carbon reduction target-setting. Using this toolkit, each business can now identify and work towards their individual science-based targets and together present a competitive difference that aligns with the global agenda and positively positions the sector.

Similar initiatives are taking place across the world – including the agriculture industry in South America – demonstrating that this solution need not be specific to any sector. From retail to dairy and everything in between, collective action is a proven approach when attempting change in isolation seems impossible to achieve. Undertaking this process as an industry has multiple benefits. It drives innovation and efficiency across the sector, demonstrates leadership and transparency and shows confidence and credibility. It’s an opportunity for each business to understand their performance and impact – and make appropriate adjustments that support ongoing sustainability objectives.

Australian industries are gradually aligning with low-carbon targets and sustainability rating bodies, such as Green Star, reward projects that can prove a reduction in environmental impact. There is a growing market demand for low-carbon products and materials to feed this next stage alongside a new focus on embodied emissions – as opposed to simply operational. Many businesses are now under pressure to deliver against set targets not just as individual actors, but across their supply chain. Working with the timber industry to establish an accessible toolkit for all Australian wood product manufacturers has provided a tangible point of competitive difference in the marketplace. Through the use of the developed resources, timber can now rightly claim their place as a carbon-efficient product and can go to market as a preferred alternative to competitive materials such as steel.

Photo by Tash Van Biene from Spindrift Stories

Not all industries are ready for this collective stage, and there are individual businesses that are keen to advance their climate strategy but wary of risk and feeling exposed. At Edge, we can help each business understand their carbon footprint and agree the reduction measures to be taken. We can help drive collaboration amongst key stakeholders, activate employees in carbon reduction initiatives and demonstrate meaningful leadership by acknowledging consumer thinking. We can also advise on engaging more deeply with supply chains in order to make lasting change.

Whilst individual action is necessary, moving as an industry body will undoubtedly have the greatest collective impact – not only as a climate strategy but from many other perspectives. Rather than one business alone bearing the entire cost, smaller businesses can also take part and align to best practice. The approach can then be specifically tailored to meet the needs of that particular industry allowing for easy comparison across companies, as well as across industry. It drives competition across the sector as well as supporting individual strategic direction and meeting market demand.

As many more companies commit to science-based targets, knowledge-sharing and collective action are crucial to driving the sustainability agenda forwards. And as the demand for low-carbon materials and products grows, the business case for greater action is clear. Whether we take steps as individuals or as industry bodies to share the science and the knowledge, we are all part of the solution. By working together and recognising that we all have a collective role to play, we can continue to innovate, share initiatives and meet our science-based targets head on.

To find out more how Edge can help you collaborate and move towards science-based targets, get in touch with Maisie Auld and our Carbon and Climate Change Resilience team here: (maisie@edgeenvironment.com).


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