In order for global warming to be limited to 1.5 degrees, global greenhouse gas emissions must be halved by 2030, with the starting point of 2020 and reaching zero emissions by 2050. The role of business is important in this and scope 3 is the key to unlock the necessary radical climate footprint reduction.
In Sweden, private consumption accounts for two thirds of consumption-based emissions, with public consumption and investment accounting for one third. Sweden’s consumption-based greenhouse gas emissions are more than ten times higher than the sustainable long-term level. Whilst consumption must decrease and become sustainable, companies also need to switch to climate-smart processes and business models. This work must accelerate dramatically, especially in production, where emissions are at their greatest.
The Carbon Law intends for a halving of global emissions of greenhouse gases each decade. Scope 3 is the key to the radical climate footprint reduction that is needed.
Climate change and the role of business
In the anthropocene period, i.e. the age of man, the planetary ecosystem has paid a high price for humankind’s material progress. The production of food and products has led to emissions, waste, over-exploitation of natural resources and a severe impact on the climate. Species are dying at an ever faster rate, the global average temperature is rising and the effects are becoming more acute every year; fires, floods, extreme weather conditions and melting glaciers.
Companies have a central role to play in reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Emissions are classified into the categories of scope 1, 2 and 3, according to the GHG protocol — the international standard for governments, companies and organizations.
Scope 1, 2 och 3
- Scope 1: Direct greenhouse gas emissions that a business has control over, e.g. greenhouse gas emissions from vehicles and machines that the business owns or leases.
- Scope 2: Indirect emissions from electricity, such as electricity production, district heating and cooling.
- Scope 3: Indirect greenhouse gas emissions that occur outside the boundaries of the business. The emissions are often divided into so-called upstream and downstream emissions, depending on whether they occur before or after a company’s own operations in the value chain. Examples of upstream emissions are material consumption, business travel or production of equipment. Examples of downstream emissions are processing, usage and final handling of sold products. The majority of a company’s greenhouse gas emissions are within scope 3.
Axfoundation has entered a strategic collaboration with the Exponential Roadmap Initiative and the companies in the Axel Johnson Group to accelerate climate work in scope 3. In the spring of 2021, Axfoundation mapped both the existing knowledge regarding scope 3 reductions, as well as the future needs of both purchasing companies and suppliers in different countries. The feasibility study showed that the knowledge of suppliers is uneven and that there are no incentives to change; as long as customers do not demand it, many will continue as usual. The purchasing companies on the other hand, often lack an effective way of setting climate-related requirements, communicating and following up on them.
The lessons learned from the feasibility study are being used to jointly develop a digital climate education tool for suppliers in different industries and countries. The goal for the next stage of the collaboration is to increase the requirements for concrete measures for reduced climate footprint in scope 3 at the supplier level.
Axfoundation’s ambition is to develop, together with partners, digital cross-industry supplier support, which primarily aims to inform, motivate and train suppliers in line with the 1.5-degree target. The training will be generic and will be aimed at large and small factories, as well as producers in various industries and countries.
The close collaboration with the Exponential Roadmap Initiative puts the project in close proximity to the work of the UN’s Race to Zero, SME Climate Hub and Supply Chain Leaders, which brings together practitioners, experts and methodology based on the latest scientific research.
Together we develop digital climate support for companies and their suppliers.
“In this project, we both pave the way, whilst also learning as we go. Initially, we will test the tool within the Axel Johnson Group’s companies. If it is successful, the next step will be to make the resource available to everyone.” – Viveka Risberg, Program Director Sustainable Production and Consumption, Axfoundation.
Impact Report shows changes on factory floor