Emissions Reduction Plan: A Comprehensive Guide for NZ Businesses

Emissions Reduction Plan: A Comprehensive Guide for NZ Businesses

Today’s business environment is centred on environmental responsibilities. There are many ways to achieve sustainability; but it's a journey

Emission Reduction Plan: A Comprehensive Guide for NZ Businesses

Embarking on your sustainability journey is easier than you might think. We've crafted a handy Quickstart Guide for SME Carbon Management to help you implement effective carbon management in under 10 minutes – completely free of charge. If you're looking for more personalised guidance, we're also offering a free 15-minute session where you can see exactly how to put these practices into action.

​​Today’s business environment is centred on environmental responsibilities. There are many ways to achieve sustainability; it is a long road. We know it can be a difficult process for most. Carbon management plans are the cornerstone of any business looking to start its journey of making a difference as far as the environment is concerned. Throughout the process, we walk with you from start to finish and explain why measuring greenhouse gas emissions with an accurate figure is important and how your company can increase its reputation and stay ahead of any regulatory curve balls that could be thrown at you. When you look at sustainable processes, whether you are starting with a clean slate or just tweaking your current strategy, we take those daunting, jargany complicated processes and break them into manageable steps.


Step 1: Create a Strategy/Plan: Framework

  • Create a sustainability strategy that corresponds to your organisation’s values and culture. 
  • Choose the management pathways, aim for clearly defined emissions goals and emphasise environmental recovery and transparency. 
  • Elaborate on risks and introduce mandatory climate reporting frameworks for larger organisations.

Step 2: Measure - Know Your Carbon Footprint

  • Define emission scopes, standards and assessments. 
  • Begin by means of resources-oriented techniques advancing towards technical precision. 
  • Utilise tools such as Cogo or the GHG Protocol to get accurate results and evaluate emission reduction targets that are achievable.

Step 3: Reduction Strategies - Plan Recommendations and Strategies to Decrease Emissions

  • Locate the most carbon-intensive regions and plan for emission reductions. 
  • Consider strategic and short-term measures such as the implementation of energy efficiency and renewable energy adoption. 
  • Engage employees in sustainability, establish emission reduction goals and actions.

Step 4: Restore - Take Earth Positive Action

  • Reduce unavoidable emissions by buying carbon credits and participating in renewable energy and reforestation projects. 
  • Emphasise emission reductions, community involvement, and policy advocacy. 
  • Focus on real impact and its integration into a climate strategy by selecting offset projects on the basis of their additionality, credibility and verification.

Step 5: Communicate - Tell Your Story

  • Make a sustainability report to highlight your environmentally responsible practice. 
  • For large organisations, make sure that it follows best practice standards, and for small to medium organisations, be transparent and complete in your reporting.
  • Provide timely stakeholder updates and mandatory climate-related disclosures as a sign of getting serious about sustainability on your part.

Step 6: Certify

  • Strengthen data credibility by certification, which contributes to the company's reputation, compliance and resilience. 
  • Make use of services from suppliers such as Toitū Envirocare, The Lever Room, Ekos or SBTi. 
  • Consultants can provide assistance with audits and verifications, which, in turn, result in targeted emission reduction strategies.

Step 7: Review and Adapt

  • Regularly review and make necessary adjustments to your sustainability initiatives that align with the emission reduction targets. 
  • Compare pre-change and post-implementation carbon levels, assess initiatives’ successes and weaknesses, recording lessons learned for future strategy improvements.

Step 1: Create a Strategy/Plan: Framework

First, develop a strategy and plan for your business towards sustainability. The framework is the most significant reference point that will guide you on your journey. It will also be a reminder that you need to accomplish your goals. Here are some critical elements to remember when developing your sustainability strategy and plan.

Organisational Strategy

An aligned strategy and framework are necessary for a successful and effective strategy. Always ensure that your sustainability strategy aligns with your business strategy and culture. Consider the following: 

  • What would my bottom line look like with a better environment? 
  • Does such information benefit or make sense to suppliers, customers, or stakeholders? 
  • How would circular processes contribute towards cost savings? 

You must integrate sustainability into your vision and mission statements to make sustainability a cornerstone of your business strategy. That makes it possible to efficiently deploy resources towards your sustainability objectives and implement this across your company.

Manage In-House, Consultant, or Technology 

It is good to determine early whether you’ll manage sustainability initiatives internally or involve external consultants and technology-based solutions; this can come down to your team’s interests, capability and desire to learn.

In-house - By selecting this, you have more control and understanding of your sustainability initiatives when you have in-house management. However, it is important to allocate staff time and resources to implement these initiatives; otherwise, you will add more workload and risk burning out staff.

Consultant - External consultants could be relied upon to offer expertise and guidance if you are looking for a fast track to gaining certification. This can sometimes lead to a very quantitative approach that increases workload but does not build the right internal capability for long-term success.

Technology - Solutions such as sustainability management software are designed to simplify data collection, analysis, and reporting; however, a drawback is the lack of direction technology provides; it does not help you build a unique strategy to your company's circumstances. 

Hybrid - Another approach is a mixture of the three above; selecting a core team to build the strategy and capability internally. They will need resourcing so they can lean on external consultants for expertise and technology for efficiency.

At MyNativeForest, we suggest the hybrid approach and offer a low-cost Carbon Management Solution that focuses on helping you build an internal carbon management program. We introduce you to the right technology, consultants and training to create an efficient process that sets you off on the right path.

Strategy for Voluntary Climate Reporting

To guide your sustainability journey, establish clear and measurable goals. Our guide will consider the following objectives to drive your sustainability strategy as it is the approach that fits the majority:

  1. Measure: First, you must assess your greenhouse gas emissions, commonly called a carbon footprint. This involves determining all emission sources and quantifying them in your organisation. This allows you to set baselines and monitor progress. Remember, if you are just starting out, don’t worry about being absolutely perfect; it can be intimidating and overwhelming. Get a number as fast and low cost as possible, and then start investing in improving your processes to collect the data to get your measurement as accurate as possible.
  2. Reduce: This refers to actions aimed at reducing your emissions through energy efficiency improvement, renewable energy adoption, better supply chain management, etc. It is a continuous process demanding perpetual action and innovation, so start with one thing and get the ball rolling. The goal here is to make your company as carbon-efficient as possible so you can produce or deliver your products and services with the lowest possible impact.
  3. Restore: As you can probably tell by our name, we are massive advocates for environmental restoration. We need to take urgent action in this space to have resilient communities and environments in which to live and do business. Don’t wait to reduce to ‘carbon neutral’; that is a paper-based exercise of offsetting carbon. Start to invest in projects that align with your business's values and create positive biodiversity outcomes for our planet. Even better if, through your projects, you earn the required carbon to help neutralise your long-term impacts that can not be reduced out of the business. Like above, start small and compound your impact over time. We are always open to chatting about ways to invest in native forests, contact us today!
  4. Communicate: You must be transparent in what you communicate with regard to your sustainability efforts. You need to tell people what impact your business has on the environment and what you do about it, both within and outside your organisation. Trust is built through effective communications that indicate your commitment to sustainability.
  5. Certify: To date; the certification has been seen as the first step; however, the immediate introduction of highly technical jargon, intense overhauls of existing processes and reporting, and consultants on charge-up are not a good combination for any business. Starting with certification is what stalls most companies, but if you are starting, certifications act as a great goal to work and plan towards. Start by finding a certification that aligns with your industry, and when you are confident in carbon management, verify your progress and claims. The most acknowledged certificates include  Ekos, Toitu, B-Corp and the Science Based Targets Initiative (SBTi) in New Zealand.

It is important to acknowledge the risks associated with the sustainability journey. Here are three key risks and what you can do to mitigate them. 

Risk 1: Comprehensive carbon reporting, possibly hiring external sustainability consultants, and investments in low emissions technologies and energy options lead to higher operational costs.

Mitigation Idea: It is worth investing in some form of external consulting to help build a roadmap to develop a strong carbon accounting and reporting system to trace all the emissions. Investing in knowledgeable external experts or consultants and the right technology is worth the investment.

Risk 2: Compliance challenges and customer expectations concerning regulatory compliance across the globe as governments become stricter in imposing environmental laws.

Mitigation Idea: It is important to incorporate your customers in the journey to understand their needs. They may not have mentioned it, but they will welcome the conversation and appreciate the foresight. This affects us all in different ways, especially if customers operate under different regulations or are exposed to more stringent laws and regulations.

Risk 3: Switching to more eco-friendly alternatives in your supply chain can lead to initial disruptions. For example, these adjustments may involve switching to new suppliers or changing the materials, which can temporarily affect your business flow.

Mitigation Idea: Plan, implement and schedule supply change management to allow for minimal disturbances. First, talk to your existing suppliers about their plans to address carbon management and how they can provide you with lower carbon-intensive materials or services; in most cases, they will also have a roadmap. Working together with existing suppliers can create stronger relationships over time, and it is much better to journey with someone than alone. 

Suppose this is fruitless, research-suitable, environmentally friendly suppliers and materials. At first, such changes could bring up some problems, but they will build up a more stable and durable supply chain in the long run. 

Where you have products that do not have an alternative, you will have to look at how you will compensate for this impact, whether by funding native trees and biodiverse ecosystems or by implementing reuse and recycling programs.

Also, consider introducing these environmental aspects in a staged manner so that your supply chain can adjust gradually; it’s not a race…but don’t be last. 😉

Strategy for mandatory climate reporting

Although the above approach can work for companies of all sizes, if you are a large publicly listed company, insurer, bank, non-bank deposit taker and investment manager, you are mandated to disclose climate-related impacts; below is an approach that can be considered when developing a high-level strategy to communicate effectively to board and management, developed by Karl Check at Foreseeable, the Climate Response Wheel. 

The "Foreseeable Climate Response Wheel" offers a comprehensive framework for businesses to address climate change. It includes tools like the Climate Response Wheel to visualise and plan climate change strategies. Key aspects include:

  • Communication Tool: Explains internal and external efforts on climate change.
  • Reporting Tool: Provides oversight of climate change aspects for executive and board levels.
  • Planning Tool: Identifies work needed across the business to be climate-ready.

The framework emphasises three main workstreams in climate response:

  • Decarbonisation: Reducing direct and indirect emissions, creating an emissions inventory, assessing reduction options, and implementing plans.
  • Adaptation: Preparing for physical climate impacts, mapping the value chain against climate impacts, understanding future climate in relevant areas, identifying risks, and creating adaptation plans.
  • Transition: Aligning with a future of reduced emissions, understanding system shifts, identifying risks and opportunities, and aligning business models with a net-zero world.

It also highlights the importance of enablers and a comprehensive view of the value chain in accelerating climate response. The tool is customisable and can be used to communicate the status of various areas of climate response, providing a clear snapshot for management and boards.

This framework aligns well with climate-related disclosure standards and can be integrated into enterprise strategies for effective carbon management.

To get a full copy of the whitepaper, visit - https://www.foreseeable.nz/climate-response-wheel.

Step 2: Measure - Know your carbon footprint

Accurately measuring your emissions is crucial for effective management. This step involves defining your scope, following established standards, and collecting and cleaning data. Let's dive into the details.

Getting Started vs Getting Certified

Navigating the carbon management journey involves two distinct pathways: the initial steps of getting started and the more advanced stage of achieving certification.

Getting Started: This is the foundational phase of the business's carbon management journey. It's about understanding your carbon footprint and setting up a basic framework for managing it. This initial stage is less about technicalities and more about integrating a carbon-conscious mindset into your business operations. It involves setting achievable goals, initiating carbon reduction initiatives that align with your business objectives, and fostering a culture of sustainability within your organisation. Regular internal and external communication about these efforts is key, as it promotes transparency and engages stakeholders in the process.

Getting Certified: As your business matures in its carbon management practices, consider pursuing formal certification. This more intricate and technical step requires a deeper dive into carbon accounting and verification processes. Certification often demands significant upfront resources and a thorough understanding of complex standards and methodologies. However, the payoff is substantial – it validates your efforts and positions your business as a leader in sustainability, enhancing credibility and trust with customers, investors, and the community.

Transitioning from the starting phase to certification is a journey of growth and commitment to environmental stewardship. Each step forward reflects your business's dedication to making a positive impact on the planet, aligning perfectly with the ethos of sustainable and responsible business practices.

Define Your Scope: Organisational and Operational Boundaries

Accurately measuring your emissions and clearly defining the boundaries of your emissions inventory includes selecting the organisational and operational boundaries that will be considered in your calculations. 

Organisational boundaries define which entities and activities within your organisation will be measured. Real-world limitations specify the sources of emissions that will be accounted for, such as owned or controlled facilities, vehicles, or supply chain activities.

Firstly, ask yourself the following questions:

  • What entities, business units or subsidiaries are we going to measure?
  • In each of these, what scopes are we going to include?

You can use the infographic below to help you determine what needs to be measured in each scope. We have then listed the scopes below in table format.

This can very quickly become overwhelming, but we would like to remind you at this point that getting started is more important than getting it perfect the first time, so if you feel overwhelmed, start by limiting your scope and boundaries.

Reference - XRB

Scope 1/2/3 Emissions

Categorise your emissions into three scopes:

Scope 1: Direct emissions from sources that your organisation owns or controls, such as emissions from on-site combustion, company vehicles, or refrigerants.

Scope 2: Indirect emissions resulting from the generation of purchased electricity, heat, or steam consumed by your organisation.

Scope 3: Those emissions that occur from activities not specifically controlled by your organisation, such as the supply chain, business travel or waste disposal. There are 15 distinct categories of Scope 3 emissions, each impacting your carbon footprint differently.

Emission Factors Explained

Once you have selected your boundaries, we recommend picking an emissions factor standard. In most cases, governments or industry groups will publish a standard that is free to access.

The internationally recognised New Zealand standard comes from the New Zealand's Ministry for the Environment website and offers comprehensive documentation, including user-friendly GHG emissions factors tables, which provides emissions factors and helps explain how an emission factor is calculated based on your activity.

Each business activity listed above, measured in common units like kilograms or litres, is multiplied by a government-specified emissions factor to calculate its carbon impact. 

For example, to understand the emissions from your energy use, simply multiply your fuel spend by the relevant emissions factor provided by the Ministry for the Environment; see the example below. 

One thing to note to help understand the calculation below is CO2-e, which means carbon dioxide equivalent; this helps simplify your measurement across the different gases your activities emit. The emissions factor workbook includes an all-inclusive number, so you do not need to calculate all the gases for every activity.

Data Collection and Analysis 

Identifying and Interacting with Relevant Departments

The first step in effective carbon management is to establish organisational and operational boundaries and then engage with the departments within these boundaries. Collaboration across various departments is essential to gather a comprehensive view of your environmental impact. This includes analysing activities related to fuel and energy consumption, transport, waste production, and industry-specific emissions. Involving these departments enriches the data collection process and fosters a culture of shared responsibility for sustainability.

Combining Spend-Based and Activity-Based Data Collection

Understanding the nuances of spend-based and activity-based data collection is crucial. Spend-based data collection involves analysing financial transactions to estimate emissions, providing a quick but approximate overview of environmental impacts. For example, you can categorise expenditures from your chart of accounts based on emission factors to understand where emissions are highest.

On the other hand, activity-based data collection focuses on the actual consumption or activities, such as kilometres travelled or litres of fuel used. It is more time-consuming but offers precise data. For instance, IoT sensors installed across your facilities can provide real-time data on energy use, fuel consumption, and waste generation, offering a granular view of your emissions.

Listing Emission Sources and Required Data

Identify and list all relevant sources of emissions within your organisation. This could include, but is not limited to, fuel consumption in company vehicles, energy use in office spaces, and waste production in manufacturing processes. For each source, determine the type of data required, whether it’s financial expenditure or direct activity measures, to accurately assess its impact.

Data Collection, Cleaning, and Validation

Once data collection methods are established, cleaning and validating this data is crucial. This involves checking for inconsistencies, resolving gaps, and making necessary adjustments. For example, initially, you might record fuel usage based on expenditure and then transition to recording the actual litres of fuel used. Similarly, start with total electricity expenditure and gradually shift to measuring kilowatt-hours. In the case of waste, begin with overall disposal costs and evolve to assess the actual weight or type of waste produced. 

By meticulously classifying and cleaning your data, you lay a robust foundation for a quantitative and actionable sustainability strategy. Remember, accurate and reliable data is key to making informed decisions and setting effective targets for emission reduction.

Add Data to the Inventory Tool

As you gather and clean your emissions data, you will need to insert that data into an inventory system; this could be a software product built for purpose or a spreadsheet. This section discusses the various tools available.

Carbon Accounting Tools: Many carbon accounting tools exist in the market, which help in emissions calculation and management. Using these tools reduces the amount of manual data entry and calculations, making it more straightforward to use and with fewer errors. Notable examples include:

  • Cogo: Cogo has carbon management products that people and businesses use to calculate their climate footprint and mitigate the impact. They aim to make people and businesses aware of the negative effects of their spending on the environment. Cogo’s Business Carbon Manager facilitates business transition to a low carbon model. They are carbon experts with over a decade of experience, trusted by the top banks globally.
  • CarbonInvoice: CarbonInvice uses the accounting data from your business and groups up the expenses into carbon segments that combine with the industry-standard emissions factor to give the total carbon emission intensity of your business.
  • CarbonTrail: CarbonTrail was developed to track carbon emissions in different companies. This gives a basis for businesses to calculate the amount of carbon released and formulate measures for mitigation.
  • International Tools:some text
    • Carbon Intelligence: Carbon Intelligence supports large organisations in setting and achieving their sustainability targets. They are experienced in science-based target setting as the first official target partner for CDP. 
    • Ecologi Zero: Previously known as Offset Earth, Ecologi is a platform enabling organisations and individuals to offset carbon emissions using various climate projects. Ecologi Zero is a free online tool that allows companies to assess and reduce emissions in their firms. It is suitable for SMEs that can be used to get the entire picture of carbon reduction progress through Xero accounting data.

Sector-Specific Tools: In addition to the general carbon accounting tool, sector-specific tools are made available for the unique emission sources and calculations relevant to particular sectors. These provide sector-specific info and direction for more accurate reporting of the emissions based on the industry. For example:

  • Ad Net Zero for Agencies: This tool was developed specifically for advertising agencies in order to help them monitor carbon footprints resulting from activities, ad campaigns, or operations.
  • Qualmark for Tourism: Qualmark is designed for New Zealand’s tourism industry and incorporates an assessment of sustainability and carbon footprint. It helps tourism enterprises to comprehend their footprint and find appropriate solutions to mitigate it.

Cross-Sector Tools: The main point of designing cross-sector tools is to serve different industries and offer a broad vision of emissions management. Such tools have much flexibility, allowing them to be customised according to the needs of various industries while bringing in data from diverse sources that provide for comprehensive reports and analysis. Examples of such tools include:

  • Climate Action Toolbox from MBIE: The New Zealand Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment offers this versatile toolbox to various business sectors. This helps companies to know about and control emissions in a total sustainability approach.
  • Sustainable Business Network's Climate Action Toolbox: This tool was mainly developed for small businesses but can be helpful to large companies even at their initial stages of emissions control. It has a built-in emissions calculator, tailor-made recommendations, and support, which incorporate a step-by-step guide on reducing emissions, a personalised action plan, useful links, and inspirational stories that showcase businesses already taking on climate change.

These tools offer complete solutions for companies keen to gauge their carbon footprint and cut it down. MBIE and Sustainable Business Network tool boxes provide companies with a convenient platform with personalised advice and resources, which are highly useful in a company’s sustainability journey regardless of stage.

Step 3: Reduction Strategies

Plan Recommendations and Strategies to Reduce Emissions

Having identified primary sources of greenhouse gas (GHG) emission in your system, categorise them as areas of high carbon use. This will include a full audit on energy consumption, transportation practices, waste management and other significant contributors to your carbon footprint.

Focus on High Carbon Usage Areas:

  • Short-Term Initiatives: Identify the areas where immediate improvements can be made, such as energy efficiency upgrades and process optimisation. Quick victories in these areas can significantly lessen the time frame and reduce overall emissions quickly.
  • Long-Term Strategies: Formulate development plans for more expensive areas or infrastructural changes. Long-term goals include shifting to renewable energy or establishing comprehensive waste management.

Below are some example high-level strategies:

Energy Efficiency: Incorporate energy-efficient technologies and processes, including changing to LED illumination, improving HVAC systems, and integrating energy-efficient equipment. Improve insulation and production processes to reduce energy consumption.

Renewable Energy: The shift of energy usage towards renewable sources like solar or wind power to minimise the emissions from traditional energy use.

Sustainable Supply Chain: Collaborate with suppliers to assess and improve their sustainability practices. Encourage them to reduce emissions, adopt eco-friendly packaging, and prioritise sustainable sourcing and manufacturing processes.

Transportation Optimisation: Implement measures to reduce the carbon footprint of your transportation activities. Explore options like optimising delivery routes, promoting carpooling or public transportation for employees, and investing in low-emission or electric vehicles for your fleet.

Waste Reduction and Recycling: Implement waste management strategies prioritising waste reduction, recycling, and composting. Minimise waste generation and explore innovative solutions for recycling and repurposing materials.

Encourage Different Habits

Changing habits and behaviours is key to achieving long-term sustainability. Encourage employees to adopt eco-conscious practices in their daily activities at work and in their personal lives. Foster a culture of sustainability by:

Promoting Awareness: Conduct awareness campaigns and training sessions to educate employees about the importance of sustainability and their role in achieving emission reduction goals.

Employee Engagement: Involve employees in sustainability initiatives by seeking their input and ideas. Encourage them to actively participate in energy-saving programs, waste reduction efforts, and other sustainability initiatives.

Recognition and Incentives: Recognise and reward employees who actively contribute to sustainability efforts. Offer incentives or create friendly competitions to motivate employees to adopt sustainable practices.


Education is a powerful tool for driving sustainable change. Provide ongoing education and training programs to increase awareness and knowledge about sustainability. Focus on the following areas:

Sustainable Practices: Educate employees about sustainable practices related to energy conservation, waste management, water usage, and responsible consumption. Provide guidelines and resources to help them integrate these practices into their work and personal lives.

Sustainability Reporting: Educate relevant staff members on the importance of accurate data collection and reporting for sustainability initiatives. Train them on using reporting tools and methodologies to ensure data integrity.

External Stakeholders: Extend your educational efforts beyond internal employees. Engage with customers, suppliers, and other stakeholders to raise awareness about your sustainability initiatives and encourage them to adopt sustainable practices.

By planning and implementing targeted recommendations and strategies, fostering sustainable habits, and providing education and training, you can drive significant emission reductions and create a culture of sustainability within your organisation. 

Set Targets

Setting clear and ambitious targets is a crucial component of your sustainability journey. Targets provide a roadmap for progress, help prioritise actions, and demonstrate your commitment to emission reduction. Let's explore different types of targets and their breadth and depth:

Depth Targets

Relative Carbon Targets: Relative carbon targets are based on reducing emissions intensity, often measured as emissions per production unit or revenue. These targets focus on reducing emissions relative to a specific metric, allowing you to track efficiency improvements over time. For example, you might aim to reduce emissions by a certain percentage per unit of product manufactured or per dollar of revenue generated.

Absolute Carbon Targets: Absolute carbon targets involve setting specific emission reduction goals in complete terms. These targets aim to directly reduce your organisation's total emissions, regardless of changes in production levels or revenue. Absolute targets provide a clear benchmark for emission reduction and can help drive significant changes across your operations.

Restorative Carbon Targets: Restorative carbon targets go beyond emission reduction to focus on actively removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. These targets involve investing in projects or initiatives that promote carbon sequestration, such as reforestation or carbon capture and storage technologies. Restorative targets demonstrate a commitment to minimising further emissions and restoring and regenerating the environment.

Breadth Targets (Science-Based Targets - SBT)

Scope 1: Scope 1 targets direct emissions from sources owned or controlled by your organisation. These emissions typically include on-site fuel combustion, process, and fugitive emissions. Setting an ambitious scope one target encourages you to implement measures to reduce emissions within your direct operational control.

Scope 2: Scope 2 targets indirect emissions from purchased electricity, heat, or steam consumption. By setting scope two targets, you commit to reducing the emissions resulting from your energy consumption. This can be achieved through renewable energy procurement, efficiency improvements, or investment in clean energy sources.

Scope 3: Scope 3 targets address indirect emissions in your organisation's value chain. These emissions are generated from purchased goods and services, business travel, employee commuting, waste disposal, and transportation. Setting scope three targets demonstrates a comprehensive approach to emission reduction that encompasses your entire value chain.

Science-Based Targets (SBT) are emissions reduction targets aligned with the latest climate science to limit global warming to below 2 degrees Celsius. SBTs provide a robust framework for setting ambitious and credible targets contributing to global climate goals. By aligning your targets with SBT methodologies, you can ensure that your efforts align with international climate targets.

Setting targets across the depth and breadth dimensions allows you to comprehensively address emissions reduction, ranging from direct operational emissions to value chain and global impacts.

Create Initiatives with Departments

Implementing sustainability initiatives requires collaboration and involvement from various departments within your organisation. You can leverage expertise and resources to drive impactful change by working together. Let's explore how to create initiatives that align with your organisational framework and include reduction and offset techniques:

Initiatives Should Focus on Your High Carbon Usage Areas:

Identify the key areas outlined in your organisational sustainability framework and align these with high carbon usage areas from your footprint measurement. These areas may include energy efficiency, waste management, supply chain sustainability, employee engagement, or product innovation. Collaborate with relevant departments, such as operations, procurement, HR, and marketing, to develop initiatives that address these focus areas. Each initiative should have specific objectives, action plans, and responsible individuals or teams.

List Reduction and Offset Techniques:

When designing carbon reduction initiatives, consider a combination of reduction and offset techniques to achieve emission reduction goals:

Reduction Techniques: Identify opportunities to reduce emissions through operational improvements, process optimisation, and resource efficiency. For example, you may implement energy-saving measures, promote recycling and waste reduction, optimise transportation logistics, or adopt sustainable procurement practices. Encourage departments to brainstorm innovative ideas to minimise environmental impact within their respective areas of expertise.

Offset Techniques: Explore options to offset remaining emissions that are difficult to eliminate. One approach is to engage in the voluntary carbon market, where you can purchase verified carbon credits or invest in projects that result in emission reductions elsewhere. These projects could include renewable energy installations, reforestation initiatives (like us 😀), or community-based sustainability programs. By participating in the voluntary carbon market, you can neutralise your unavoidable emissions while supporting sustainable development initiatives.

Voluntary Carbon Market:

Engaging in the voluntary carbon market provides an opportunity to compensate for emissions that cannot be reduced through internal measures alone. The voluntary carbon market allows you to purchase carbon credits, representing certified emission reductions achieved by projects in other sectors or regions. Investing in high-quality carbon credits can support projects that contribute to climate mitigation and sustainable development.

When selecting carbon credits, prioritise independently verified ones that meet recognised standards such as the NZ ETS, Verified Carbon Standard (VCS) or Gold Standard. These standards ensure the integrity and credibility of the emission reductions achieved by the projects. You can make significant progress toward your emission reduction goals by creating initiatives that align with your organisational framework, encompassing reduction and offset techniques, and actively participating in the voluntary carbon market. 

Step 4: Restore - Take Earth Positive Action

Climate action isn’t just a corporate box to tick; it's a deep commitment to our planet. It's about understanding the urgency of climate change and embedding sustainability into the very fabric of business operations. Sure, reducing greenhouse gases (GHGs) is a big part of it, but sometimes, despite our best efforts, we can’t cut them all. That's where offsetting steps in, offering a practical way to make up for those unavoidable emissions. It's a blend of direct action and smart compensation that forms our holistic approach to protecting the climate.

The Role of Carbon Credits

Carbon credits are at the forefront of this offsetting process. Each credit is purchased to avoid, reduce, or remove a metric ton of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) from the atmosphere. When businesses buy these credits, they’re not just ticking a box; they’re fueling projects that balance out their footprint. These projects are diverse, ranging from renewable energy to reforestation, capturing methane, and boosting energy efficiency.

But there’s more to it. It’s not just about numbers; it’s about values. The impact is amplified when a business picks offsetting projects that mirror what it stands for. A company that cherishes community development might back projects that uplift local communities. One passionate about biodiversity might throw its weight behind reforestation efforts that nurture ecosystems.

Choosing the Right Offsetting Solutions

When it comes to offsetting, it's not just a checkbox exercise. It's about making sure every step counts. We need to look at things like the project’s ‘additionality’ – that means making sure the good stuff, like emission reductions, wouldn’t happen without the project. We also need to check how credible the initiative is and how strong its verification process is. These aren’t just details; they’re what make our offsetting efforts genuinely impactful and a real force in the fight against climate change.

Integrating Offsetting in Our Broader Climate Strategy

Offsetting isn't a standalone thing; it's part of a bigger picture of sustainability. It’s about seeing the forest for the trees – understanding that reducing emissions in our day-to-day operations is just as crucial. When businesses embrace this holistic approach, they’re not just cutting down emissions; they’re building a reputation for caring about our planet and aligning with the values of people who matter – their stakeholders.

At MyNativeForest, we offer easy access to New Zealand-based carbon credits for offsets. With us, you will be investing directly into existing or new native forest projects for carbon credits that align with your values. Touch base to chat about a solution that’s right for you at any time.

Step 5: Communicate - Tell Your Story

Once you’ve got all your sustainability deeds and data together, sharing them with the world in a report is a game-changer. A good sustainability report isn’t just a document; it’s a story about your commitment to a better future. Here’s how to make your report shine:

Key Principles for Your Sustainability Report

  • Relevance: Align with the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) standards, focusing on materiality to ensure the report covers the most significant impacts on the economy, environment, and people related to your business​​​​​​.
  • Completeness: A comprehensive overview of your sustainability performance encapsulates all relevant data. This approach aligns with the United Nations Global Compact's ten principles, advocating for inclusive and balanced reporting from human rights to the environment to anti-corruption principles. 
  • Consistency: Use the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD) recommendations to maintain consistent reporting formats, structures, and metrics for effective year-on-year comparisons​​​​​​.
  • Transparency: Adopt the principles of the International Integrated Reporting Council (IIRC) framework, which encourages comprehensive disclosure of both positive and negative aspects of your sustainability initiatives​​.
  • Accuracy: Ensure the accuracy of your report by adhering to the Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (SASB) guidelines, which emphasise robust data collection and verification processes​​.

Your Sustainability Report

Include these essentials in your report:

Who You Are: Talk about your company, your mission, and how sustainability fits into your big picture.

Your Report’s Scope: Be clear about what your report covers – which parts of your business and operations.

Emissions Data: Share your greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, broken down by direct, indirect, and value chain emissions.

Your Performance: Discuss how you’re doing in areas like energy use, water, waste management, and social impact.

Your Efforts to Reduce Emissions: Detail what you’re doing to cut down on GHG emissions and the progress you’ve made.

Your Climate Action: Highlight your offsetting work for those emissions you just can’t avoid. Talk about the projects you support, the carbon credits you’ve bought, and their wider benefits. 

Step 6: Certify

You can increase the reliability and credibility of your emissions data by getting involved in audit and verification services. The services provide for an independent evaluation of your emissions inventory for correctness based on acceptable principles. Nevertheless, attaining certification through these services can only be achieved with some developed processes that might be costly initially.

This investment could fit well in some companies, especially those highly visible to the public, which show transparency and are environmentally friendly. It may be expensive and time-consuming initially, but it has a huge potential to enhance reputation, compliance, and endurance. These factors must be critically examined, taking into account the unique circumstances of companies, the goals they want to attain, and the nature of their business operations.


Certification is crucial in ensuring your organisation demonstrates its efforts toward sustainable practices and lowering carbon emissions. Here are three certification providers:

  • Toitū Envirocare: Toitū Envirocare is an organisation that helps firms through a set of carbon and environmental programs providing a scientific approach to real progress on sustainability. 
  • The Lever Room: Lever Room is centred on using science and technology to aid clients in achieving scale-driven positive outcomes in the global environment. They offer carbon accounting, verification, and offset projects to assist with comprehensive carbon inventory, reduction, and removal initiatives.
  • Ekos: Ekos’s Carbon Management Program entails measuring and validating carbon footprints, creating and initiating carbon cutback schemes, correctly valuing residual emissions and purchasing reliable carbon credits for uncuttable emissions.

SBTi (Science Based Targets initiative)

An internationally validated framework for setting science-based targets is in the Science Based Targets Initiative (SBTi). This initiative assists businesses in verifying their emission reduction goals against current climate science. The process of engaging with SBTi typically involves several key steps:

  1. Commit: Initially, organisations register online and send a letter pledging to establish science-based targets or certify their current targets. The streamlined validation route for small and medium-sized enterprises is subject to certain conditions that must be fulfilled by companies seeking submissions.
  2. Develop Targets: The science-based targets are used by organisations to come up with their targets. This entails using relevant materials supplied by SBTi, perusing sector-specific guidelines, and taking advantage of tools such as the setting targeting tool or net-zero tool to help develop sector-specific targets.
  3. Submit for Validation: Organisations develop their targets and submit them to SBTi to be certified. This comprises filling in and submitting appropriate forms for the organisation and target type. Technical experts from the SBTi review the submissions using their science-based criteria and provide comprehensive feedback.
  4. Communicate and Disclose: Having attained consensus, organisations must disclose this and engage their stakeholders. The company must also ensure its target is publicised on the SBTi website and partner platforms. Additionally, organisations should disclose their emissions yearly, track progress toward their targets, and report via annual reports or the company’s website.

Visit the SBTi’s step-by-step guide for more details and resources.


Businesses looking to audit and verify their emissions can engage consultants who specialise in sustainability and emissions management. Consultants have rich experience in diverse services, such as conducting extensive emissions audits, verifying data, and advising on efficient emissions reductions.

Although consultants normally follow the process outlined above, they bring an immense amount of knowledge to the table in the technical areas around methodologies and reporting. We suggest looking for consultants who bring digital tools to the table for efficient data collection so that you do not create your own internal burden, as this can be the most time-consuming part.

Step 7: Review and Adapt

Regularly reviewing and adapting your sustainability efforts are essential to ensure continuous improvement and alignment with your emission reduction goals. By comparing pre and post-carbon levels and evaluating the success and inadequacy of your initiatives, you can identify areas of progress and areas that require adjustment. Let's explore these steps in detail:

Compare Pre and Post-Carbon Levels:

Regularly compare your organisation's pre and post-carbon levels to assess the effectiveness of your emission reduction strategies. This involves:

Baseline Assessment: Establish a baseline measurement of your carbon emissions before implementing sustainability initiatives. This provides a benchmark against which you can measure the progress of your efforts.

Ongoing Tracking: Continuously measure and track your carbon emissions to capture the changes resulting from your initiatives. Compare these post-implementation levels with the baseline to determine the extent of your emission reductions.

Analysis and Interpretation: Analyse the differences between pre and post-carbon levels to understand the impact of your initiatives. Identify the areas where significant progress has been made and areas that may require further attention.

Evaluate the Success and Inadequacy of Initiatives:

Regular evaluation of your sustainability initiatives allows you to assess their success and identify any shortcomings or areas for improvement. Consider the following steps:

Objective Assessment: Evaluate each initiative based on its defined objectives and KPIs. Determine whether the desired outcomes have been achieved and assess how the industry has contributed to emission reduction and sustainability goals.

Stakeholder Feedback: Seek feedback from stakeholders involved in implementing or affected by the initiatives. This feedback can provide valuable insights into the effectiveness of the industries and highlight any challenges or opportunities for improvement.

Lessons Learned: Identify lessons learned from both successful and inadequate initiatives. Document these lessons and use them to inform future decision-making and enhance the effectiveness of your sustainability efforts.

By reviewing and adapting your sustainability initiatives, you can stay responsive to changing circumstances, address any performance gaps, and optimise your strategies for emission reduction. 

All the best!