Every business has a responsibility in climate change mitigation. Carbon neutrality, acquiring an equilibrium between emitting carbon and absorbing carbon from the atmosphere, is deemed as a beneficial approach. In the Philippines, Energy Development Corporation (EDC) strives to ensure that it absorbs more carbon than its entire operation emits. This is attributable to its renewable geothermal operations coupled with its forest management program.
Still, being a pure renewable energy company that maintains vast watersheds, while something to be proud of, is not enough to reverse our worsening climate – it cannot be done alone. This prompted EDC to convene businesses and form an alliance. The Net Zero Carbon Alliance (NZCA) is the first private sector-led initiative toward attaining net-zero greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions or carbon neutrality by 2050.
Now in its second year, the NZCA continues to encourage local enterprises to commit to become carbon neutral and adhere to its strategy that is largely based on the proven approach of EDC – (1) avoiding and reducing emissions and (2) offsetting those that can no longer be reduced.
“Avoiding and reducing emissions can happen when businesses shift to renewable energy sources. To support this, other energy efficiency and conservation measures may be implemented; the idea is to reduce the overall reliance on fossil fuels. Simple organizational lifestyle and operational changes like food waste reduction, telecommuting have great impact,” explains Allan V. Barcena, Executive Director of NZCA. He is concurrently EDC’s assistant vice president and head of Corporate Relations and Communications.
For processes where reduction of emissions is no longer feasible, offsetting is seen as the solution. “Businesses can look into carbon sequestration, which is basically capturing and storing atmospheric carbon dioxide. This can be done through forest protection, conservation, and restoration.”
NZCA abides by its conceptual framework which involves the cycle of commitment, measurement, planning, action, tracking, and validation.
“The first step after making a commitment to carbon neutrality is to assess their readiness and ability, as well as the extent of their commitment to go through net zero emissions. Then they should have the quantitative data of their greenhouse emissions, carbon footprint. Knowing these will allow them to measure how much emission they need to reduce.”
In the planning stage, NZCA partners could identify and plan the solutions based on the two main strategies – avoidance/reduction and offsetting. “Businesses will identify how much emission should be avoided, how can these be avoided, and if avoidance and reduction would be impossible, how could they offset.”
As they implement their avoidance/reduction and offsetting strategies, they should also be able to track their progress. “To know if the actions in place are working, businesses should be able to measure its actual emissions and compare the results based on their target. While internal assessments are helpful, validation from independent/third-party validators can aid in the authenticity of the implementation.”
With more companies abiding by this framework, NZCA hopes to achieve carbon neutrality for the country by 2050. “The Philippine government has committed to the Paris Climate Change Agreement to reduce emissions by as much as 75% by 2030. And with more local enterprises working towards carbon neutrality through NZCA, we hope to contribute to this commitment.”
The pioneering partners of NCZA include Arthaland, First Balfour, Drink, Silliman University in Dumaguete, Knowles Electronics, and Unilever. Seven more companies have joined the alliance: Cemex, Converge ICT Solutions Inc., Ecolab, INAEC Aviation Corporation, Menarco Development Corporation, SGV & CO., and The Linden Suites.