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Credible claims for sustainable business

 
Gold Standard provides solutions to businesses looking to deliver a positive impact and make claims in the most credible way. Developed in collaboration with leading civil society organisations, Gold Standard guidance and tools help companies reduce emissions, deforestation and other negative impacts from their operations and supply chains and quantify and report on these improvements in alignment with relevant protocols and initiatives.

Companies looking to take climate action are advised to start with the right strategy. Gold Standard worked with WWF and CDP to develop Corporate Climate Stewardship: Guidelines for best practice climate action to support companies in setting ambitious strategies that are in line with the ambition of the Paris Agreement. This helps business reduce climate risk and create value by answering to increasing customer, investor and civil society demands for strong climate action.

 
The Guidelines highlight four key pillars to climate stewardship:
 
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Gold Standard focuses primarily on Pillars 2 and 3 under the mantra: “Reduce emissions within boundaries; finance beyond.” Find more details in the Guidelines document and explore further programmes below.

This programme focuses on pillar two of the Corporate Climate Stewardship Guidelines: reducing climate impact in line with science. Value chain or “Scope 3” emissions are often the largest source of corporate carbon footprints, yet to date they have been the lowest area of focus for most companies. Many have not yet taken direct action due a number of barriers, ranging from:

  1. Uncertainty about who is responsible for these indirect emissions
  2. Limited access to supplier emissions data
  3. Lack of guidance on how to account for the reductions from investments in their supply chains
  4. Inadequate recognition, thereby reduced incentives to invest in meaningful change beyond direct operations
Practical tools for addressing value chain emissions

With support from EIT Climate-KIC, Gold Standard, Danone, Livelihoods Funds, Mars, Science Based Targets and other partners have developed the Value Change Programme, featuring several practical tools to remove barriers to addressing value chain emissions:
 

1. HOW TO PRIORITISE OPPORTUNITIES AND REDUCE VALUE CHAIN EMISSIONS

Value Change in the Value Chain: Best Practices in Scope 3 Greenhouse Gas Management outlines the various levers for reducing value chain emissions — business model innovation, supplier engagement, procurement policy and choices, product and service design, customer engagement, and investment strategies. It helps companies navigate these to set the most effective strategies for their own business.



2. VALUE CHAIN INTERVENTION LEVEL RECOGNITION BY ACCOUNTING PROTOCOLS

Often, the most meaningful change can come from interventions that help partners upstream and downstream reduce emissions. Yet emission reductions at the intervention level previously could not be accounted for in the leading GHG accounting frameworks, like the GHG Protocol. Thus, companies have not been recognised for these emission reductions in their corporate footprint, limiting the incentive to invest in these projects and programmes.

Value Chain Interventions Guidance developed by Danone, Gold Standard, Livelihoods Funds, Mars, the Science Based Targets initiative, and TREES Consulting enables reporting on emissions reductions toward performance targets, in line with common accounting frameworks like the GHG Protocol.



3. SECTOR-SPECIFIC GUIDANCE

Focusing first on the Food & Beverage sector, Danone, Gold Standard, Livelihoods Funds, Mars, TREES Consulting and Unique forestry and land use GmbH drafted Soil Carbon Guidance  to demonstrate how to quantify carbon sequestered in soil, a severely neglected source of carbon sinks and a linchpin in farmer productivity.

Note that we plan to develop further guidance for priority sectors, including sustainable apparel, chemicals, electronics and transport. Please contact us to register interest in participating in working groups.

CREATING BUSINESS VALUE

While some of the most transformational mitigation strategies come with a price tag, they deliver a variety of benefits to business, including: 

  1. Provide value to suppliers and customers: Scope 3 emissions reduction efforts by one company lead to emissions reductions in other companies’ inventories, providing a benefit for value chain partners who may become increasingly subject to carbon pricing or compliance requirements.
  2. Engender goodwill in local countries: Interventions that mitigate climate -- and which are often designed to provide other local benefits -- engender goodwill or incentives from host countries where companies do business.
  3. Ensure credibility + confidence: Third party verification of Scope 3 emission reductions using globally-accepted practices increases credibility, thus confidence among investors and consumers that companies are positioning their business in line with a low-carbon future.

Learn more about setting up a ValueChange intervention to reduce your Scope 3 emissions with SustainCERT, the official certification body for Gold Standard for the Global Goals.

Defining a corporate climate finance commitment

The guide Defining a corporate climate finance commitment focuses on Pillar 3 of the Corporate Climate Stewardship guidelines, providing more information on how companies can “finance the global transition to a zero-carbon, resilient economy” and contribute to the Paris Agreement by funding emission reductions beyond their own corporate boundaries.

 

NOTE: The Gold Standard marketplace for carbon credits is limited in volumes and best serves small businesses. Businesses seeking larger procurement should contact a retailer or broker of carbon credits.

Increasingly, companies are setting net-positive goals to deliver shared value to society. Beyond purchasing carbon credits from projects delivering additional development benefits, companies can directly fund certified SDG impacts. These can come from a wide range of Gold Standard-certified projects, all representing SDG impacts -- from water access to women's empowerment -- that have been rigourously quantified, verified and certified from projects that would not have moved forward without additional finance. 

Pathways to Net Zero

Building on the Corporate Climate Stewardship Guidelines, Gold Standard is again working with WWF, CDP, and other civil society organisations to develop guidance for companies to align their climate strategies with the ‘net zero by 2050’ ambition of the Paris Agreement. A focus will be on clearly defining what “net zero emissions” means for business and answering further questions including, should a company be responsible for its value chain’s emissions? When should a company offset, and when should they not? And what if a company is officially carbon neutral, but investing in new carbon-intensive products or services that are incompatible with a net-zero future.

Deforestation related claims

Reporting on deforestation associated with commodities, such as wheat, dairy or cacao, can be complex and controversial, limiting the potential for credible ‘deforestation-free’ claims, which 87% of CDP disclosing companies identify a major business opportunity. Gold Standard and partners are pursuing the development of guidance or a protocol through which such deforestation related claims may be framed and linking this to emissions reporting. This is expected to address barriers such as historic deforestation, leakage and the drivers of deforestation in the landscape.

Contact us if you'd like to learn more about these programmes.