BSR’s Climate Journey Toward Net Zero

Photo by RomoloTavani on iStock

September 28, 2023
  • Melissa Do portrait

    Melissa Do

    Manager, Climate Change, BSR

  • Giulio Berruti portrait

    Giulio Berruti

    Director, Climate Change, BSR

  • Giulio Pagnacco portrait

    Giulio Pagnacco

    Associate, Climate Change, BSR

Key Points

  • As a mission-driven sustainable business network, we focus on impact in everything we do in our work with members to create a just and sustainable world.
  • BSR’s Climate Target reflects the urgency of the climate crisis, and our attitude to “walking the talk” with transparency, humbleness, ambition, and a commitment to sustainable business practices.
  • We remain dedicated to regularly reviewing our climate strategy, maintain open communication on our progress, and continuous improvement to achieve our goals.

With 2030 quickly approaching, global climate commitments must move toward swift action to halve emissions and reach global 2050 net-zero goals. At BSR, we work with our membership network to deliver credible action to keep 1.5°C within reach, while also maximizing synergies with nature; human rights; and equity, inclusion, and justice.

While we focus on sustainability impact in all the work we do with our members, like all organizations, our day-to-day operations have an environmental impact. It is important we hold ourselves to the same standard we expect from members, and recognize this opportunity to share openly about our climate journey. We have therefore set a climate target for our organization and embarked on a journey to deliver on it. 

Our Climate Target

Using BSR’s 2021 GHG footprint as the baseline, BSR commits to: 

  • A near-term (2030) target, to reduce total Scope 1 (own operations) Scope 2 (energy source) emissions by 50%, and our top emitting total Scope 3 (value chain) emissions by 42%. 

  • A long-term (2040) target, to reduce total Scope 1&2 emissions by 90%, our total Scope 3 emissions by 90%, and to reach net-zero by neutralizing residual emissions with permanent removals. 

Starting in 2023, we are applying a carbon price to our Scope 1, 2, and 3 emissions, and using the funds to invest in climate solutions that contribute to global net zero beyond our value chain. In 2023, we have decided to use the US Government Social Cost of Carbon as a reference. 

For more information on BSR’s GHG emissions data and climate targets, please visit Sustainability at BSR

Climate Goal Development Process 

We believe impactful work and a credible climate target and implementation plan go together. The SBTi Net Zero Standard is the most robust standard currently available, and although as a non-profit we cannot officially commit to the SBTi, we are committing to a target that follows SBTi’s guidance.

BSR’s climate goal and implementation plan are grounded in four key principles: 

  1. A clear vision on transformative climate leadership

  1. Learning from peers’ climate ambitions to ensure alignment with best practices. 

  1. Aligning with the recommendations provided to BSR members and demonstrating a commitment to “walking the talk”. 

  1. Leveraging the transformative power of BSR’s unique membership network model as a catalyst for broader change. 

BSR’s climate goal development process began with a comprehensive greenhouse gas footprint from an external expert. We then participated in one-to-one discussions on the learnings and challenges of developing a climate strategy with non-profit peers, and benchmarked industry counterparts and partners before forming and testing the feasibility of multiple climate goal options in alignment with the SBTi Net Zero Standard. The creation of the implementation plan included a review of our emissions data to understand BSR’s leverage to influence and reduce Scope 3 emissions, our largest source of emissions—largely due to our contractors and professional services use.

The whole process was validated by BSR’s internal experts, leadership team, and the CEO to ensure 1) internal operational and financial support and 2) alignment with business needs to continue our mission. 

Implementation and Beyond 

Climate commitments have true value when accompanied by a robust implementation plan with specific milestones. The delivery of our climate targets starts in 2023 and is supported by three timebound task forces: 

  • Renewable energy, heating, and green offices: Propose strategies to reduce offices’ GHG footprint and engage staff in sustainable practices at the office—including green IT and waste reduction—both with considerations for the impact of home working. 

  • Policy development: Include climate considerations in travel and contractor engagement policies to reduce emissions from two of our largest sources of Scope 3 emissions—business travel and purchased services. 

  • Beyond value chain mitigation strategy: Develop and deliver BSR’s strategy to invest in climate solutions from now and define parameters for our long-term strategy to invest in carbon removals. 

A key aspect of our implementation plan is the use of the social cost of carbon to fund our investments in climate solutions that contribute to global net zero beyond our value chain. We hope that this unique approach can inspire others to ground climate investment estimations in amounts that reflect the real-world damage to people and the environment.

Although BSR is a small organization with a small GHG footprint on a global scale, we believe that our current climate goal will bring positive impact and help us take responsibility for our impact. In parallel, we are working on ways to activate the great potential for GHG emissions reduction with our members. 

BSR’s implementation plan consists of collaboration across departments, engagement with partners and BSR members, and continuous iteration. We have climate goal implementation taskforces involving different functional teams on climate action and will work with partners and BSR members to reduce GHG emissions together. While we are still figuring out how to address our main Scope 3 hotspots, such as our contracted services and partners and business travel, we are not waiting until we have a perfectly developed strategy to act. 

Leading by Example 

BSR acknowledges the ambitious nature of our net zero target. As a small organization, we have limited leverage on our Scope 3, and do not have all the solutions now nor the resources of the large companies with which we work. However, we remain steadfast in our commitment to playing our part in achieving global net-zero and being an example of how SMEs can prioritize sustainability.

This pledge reflects BSR's core identity as a sustainability organization, the urgency of the climate crisis, and our attitude to “walking the talk” with transparency, humbleness, ambition, and a commitment to sustainable business practices.

Achieving climate goals is a journey, and BSR remains dedicated to regularly reviewing our climate strategy, open communication on our progress, and continuous improvement, including expanding our sustainability efforts to address other important issues in the future. 

Let’s talk about how BSR can help you to transform your business and achieve your sustainability goals.

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