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Catalysing GHG reductions through transformative project design

by Siddhi Ashar, Sep 6
7 minutes read

With the growing adverse effects of climate change, it is crucial that businesses reexamine the role that they can play not only through their operational emissions but also through their relationship with the external ecosystem. Launching in September 2022, Forum for the Future and Capgemini’s Beyond greenhouse gases: Transforming project design through impact measurement, will explore how businesses can unlock more transformative project design and decision making, through the lens of greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction. Over the next four months, we will be publishing a series of insights and podcasts featuring industry leaders spanning sustainability, technology, and business. We will be exploring: the world of GHG impact measurement, climate change impacts, the importance of ‘futures’ thinking, and how we must adapt our approaches and the way we work. 


GHG impacts and business

The stakes for the planet have never been higher and we will not thrive as a society if we continue on this climate-warming path. All eyes are on key actors across the globe and businesses at the forefront of this crisis are faced with a critical choice.

Do we continue with business as usual or do we embrace uncertainty and seize opportunities to drive systemic change to halt the climate crisis? 

The world of greenhouse gas (GHG) impact measurement is not new. An increasing number of organisations are raising their sustainability ambitions and implementing deep GHG cuts in line with the demands of the Paris Agreement to limit global heating to less than 1.5oC above pre-industrial levels. Organisations have used the Greenhouse Gas Protocol (accounting for Scope 1,2,3 emissions) for almost two decades to measure and report their own GHG impacts. But, what has been missing is a methodology that measures the GHG impact of a project designed to reduce another organisation’s GHG impact. 

This GHG Impact Methodology was developed to address these challenges. It enables organisations to calculate the CO2e emissions of projects for clients or organisations they are working with.

On the heels of Climate Week NYC 2022, this project hopes to unlock pathways to reducing emissions of partner organisations by including the methodology for GHG impact measurement that can be used retrospectively or proactively to inform project design decisions. The methodology helps organisations develop a range of scenarios to find and build on tangible solutions that may be adapted throughout the project. As a part of a collaborative effort between Forum for the Future and Capgemini, we hope to stretch the ambition of businesses to recognise the need for a futures focused approach to drastically transform their project design.  Such an approach can catalyse better planning and allow organisations to recognise risks or even opportunities for a positive environmental impact. 

What’s the gap?

GHG calculation typically happens at the end of a project or in time for an operational audit to be submitted. The reality for most professional service organisations (providing services such as IT transformation, business operations, and supply chain management), or organisations partnering with others, is that the GHG impact that they can have with their clients or partners can potentially be hundreds of times their operational footprints.  These could be projects whose direct objective and purpose is to reduce the client’s environmental impact, as well as indirect ones (for which an environmental impact is a consequence), such as optimising a client’s fleet and logistics system or changing a company fleet from being fossil fuel-based to electric.

Consequently, whilst not diminishing the responsibility of such organisations to reduce their operational emissions, it is critical that they should also have a robust mechanism to measure the impact they have with the companies they work with. 

Can the ecosystem of businesses and sustainability professionals step up to this challenge of addressing their GHG impacts with the companies they work with? Can they shape how those companies think and act within projects and genuinely reduce their GHG emissions? 

Capgemini has developed a GHG calculation methodology that enables just this.

During the solution design process, companies deliberate and evaluate various approaches. By calculating the potential GHG impact of a project during the design phase, they could determine which of their project designs would have a greater impact towards reducing their absolute emissions and achieving net zero / reduced emissions. It could allow for amending project activities to reduce GHG emissions. Such preemptive calculation of potential emissions of the various activities would inspire informed and strategic project design.

This approach would also help in identifying blind spots of “green” solutions such that decision-makers can consequently inspire different actions to be taken. For example, implementing domestic smart meters to enable the consumer to lower their energy consumption. Here, the negative effect would be the CO2e emissions from manufacturing and transporting the smart meter device.

What’s the opportunity ahead of us?

The time is ripe for deep transformation and impactful GHG reductions are long overdue.

Niche innovations, methodologies, and emerging technologies such as emission calculation have a role to play in creating a desirable future fit for both people and planet. But this requires a critical shift in mindsets to create systemic change, a mindset that prioritises longer-term visions and builds towards a deep transformation.

At present, there is no single globally recognised GHG impact methodology, and owing to intellectual property restrictions, it remains a challenge to get standardised carbon reporting and effectively compare progress.

Our report lays out the thinking of both Forum for the Future and Capgemini on this crucial topic, bringing our experiences to life in both a proposed approach and with a range of practical real-life examples. It is not intended to be definitive, rather to provide greater guidance for measuring Scope 1, 2, and 3 impacts through the sharing of the GHG Impact Methodology, to enable more accurate and meaningful measurement and prediction of a project’s GHG footprint.

One actor or one business alone cannot shift systems and address the impacts of climate change. Publicly sharing this methodology allows for more collaboration between actors to build synergy across the various sectors they operate in as we work towards this mammoth goal. Making the methodology publicly accessible will also allow feedback which can lead to more improvements and wider adoption of such an approach. It can help organisations plan better for a more conducive future and enables one to think about the future and strategise accordingly. Such a futures-focused approach gives us the opportunity to create broader impacts on people and the environment whilst using a systemic lens.

While the focus of this report is on GHG emissions, creating a sustainable future that is both just and regenerative encompasses much more. It requires a systemic lens as mentioned above which allows us to radically tackle adaptation, social equity, ecosystems and resources, and resilience to name but a few elements while in tandem, coping with the growing climate crisis.

Join us over the next few months as we explore the scope of GHG reductions and the role of business. We’ll be exploring questions around emissions, project design, technology, and the systemic challenges that lie ahead of us.

Can we profoundly challenge the way we think about GHG reductions and possibly change how we act? 

What’s next?

Join us

  • Join us on this exploration of how GHG reductions can play a transformative role towards a just and regenerative future and follow the Beyond greenhouse gases project
  • Share your thoughts with us on Twitter using #BeyondGHGs
  • If you would like to find out more, then get in touch with us at [email protected]

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About Beyond greenhouse gases: Transforming project design through impact measurement

Co-produced by international sustainability non-profit, Forum for the Future and global information technology company, Capgemini, Beyond greenhouse gases: Transforming project design through impact measurement will explore how businesses can unlock more transformative project design and decision making, through the lens of greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction. Over the next four months, we will be publishing a series of insights and podcasts featuring industry leaders spanning sustainability, technology, and business. We will be exploring: the world of GHG accounting, climate change impacts, the importance of ‘futures’ thinking and how we must adapt our approaches and the way we work.

With thanks to our partner
Beyond greenhouse gases was made possible thanks to the generous support from our partner: Capgemini

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by Siddhi Ashar Spotted 25 signals

With a background in international studies and filmmaking, Siddhi works with the Futures Centre team to creatively push our current imaginaries and create more positive visions of futures rooted in equity. Her works centers around challenging common narratives and working agilely to bring forth more representative ones. Through her role at the Futures Centre, she focuses on the answering the question, how can better climate communication and visioning help stakeholders work together and act intently, empathetically and urgently?

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