Net-zero by 2030
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), an authoritative group of climate experts, issued their starkest warning yet this month that we are dangerously close to running out of time to mitigate the worst impacts of the climate crisis and ecological emergency.
Dotdigital is listening, so we have committed to becoming net-zero by 2030.
What are we doing at Dotdigital?
In December 2020, Dotdigital became the first carbon neutral, ISO 14001 certified marketing automation platform in the world.
At Dotdigital, we’re engaging with the science to make sure everything we are doing is the right thing. We understand that as a business, we have the power to help with the changes needed to address the climate crisis, and we will not be shrinking away from that responsibility.
On top of our existing actions, we have committed to being net-zero by 2030. That means we will systematically eliminate greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions sources at Dotdigital so that only residual emissions – necessary to continue business operations – remain by 2030. We will make sure to offset those residual emissions with high-quality GHG removal projects.
In other words, we’re looking to meet the requirements of the Paris Agreement 20 years ahead of schedule.
What does “net-zero” actually mean?
Becoming “net-zero” means going above-and-beyond our carbon neutral status. It’s sort of like “carbon neutral plus”. In meeting the requirements of net-zero, we meet and exceed the requirements of being carbon neutral.
It means we will:
- Reduce our absolute gross GHG emissions to only “residual” levels.
- Continue to measure and offset our Scope 1, 2, and 3 GHG emissions.
- Offset all residual emissions with GHG removal projects.
There are a few things to make explicit about the above. When we say “we’re engaging with the science”, we mean it, and we believe we’re accountable for our claims and actions. So we want to be explicit about what we’re aiming for and how we know whether we’ve succeeded.
Absolute emissions vs emissions intensity
First is that we are aiming to reduce our absolute gross GHG emissions. This means the total amount of GHG emissions to the atmosphere from our business activities will decrease to residual levels.
This is in contrast to reducing our emissions intensity, which is often measured as the GHG emissions per $1000 revenue or similar proportional metric. It’s entirely possible for absolute gross GHG emissions to go up while emissions intensity goes down, which doesn’t help towards the world’s climate goals.
GHG emissions scopes
When we count our GHG emissions, we count them in three separate categories, referred to as “scopes”.
Scope 1 includes our emissions due to heating our offices with fossil fuels. Scope 2 includes our emissions due to electricity use in our offices. Scope 3 includes all other indirect emissions, which are the emissions in our supply chain and due to other business activities not included above.
To be carbon neutral, a company only needs to offset scopes 1 and 2. To be net-zero, a company also needs to include scope 3. Dotdigital already does this for major scope 3 sources, so we’re well on our way to being net-zero.
Removal vs reduction projects
The final additional requirement reflects the Oxford Offsetting Principles that we already follow to guide our offsetting decisions. This is that we must offset all residual emissions with GHG removal projects, not just GHG reduction projects.
GHG removal projects draw GHGs directly from the atmosphere and sequester them for a meaningful amount of time; preferably permanently (for all practical purposes), but for hundreds or thousands of years at a minimum.
How will Dotdigital get to net-zero?
All of the above complexity and nuances can be simplified to the table below, which shows how Dotdigital is making progress from being “carbon neutral” to being “net-zero”.
There are lots of things that we’re considering at Dotdigital to get us to the column on the right.
- Switching our offices to use only renewable energy.
- Making technical changes to our service infrastructure so it relies only on renewable energy.
- Thinking about how we can apply some of the lessons we’ve learned during the pandemic about flexible working to reduce our GHG emissions e.g. by taking fewer business flights and using virtual collaboration tools instead.
- Carefully choosing suppliers that share our environmental goals.
- Starting to research which GHG removal projects we should help fund.
And we have many other ideas too.
How is being net-zero helping above being carbon neutral?
Being carbon neutral is not sufficient to meet the commitments of the Paris Agreement and limit global heating to no more than 1.5C. Becoming net-zero means we should prioritize not producing GHG emissions ahead of offsetting GHG emissions. In other words, offsetting should be a last resort.
This reflects the current scientific understanding that natural systems respond differently to emitting and then removing the same amount of GHG emissions, compared to having never emitted those GHGs in the first place.
Why is net-zero important to Dotdigital?
A heavy burden rests on national governments to legislate and regulate, but corporations and other organizations can listen to the IPCC’s advice and act quickly and decisively without being made to.
We’re hoping that our actions today will mean that future generations can continue to enjoy Nature in the way that we have and live prosperous lives free of climate disaster.
By choosing Dotdigital as your customer engagement platform you’re reducing your emissions footprint. You can read more about this here.
And with us moving to net-zero, you can be confident that we’ll continue to exceed growing customer expectations when it comes to the environment.