WMBC to tackle Scope 3 emissions in the supply chain

We Mean Business Coalition launches Supplier Cascade, to tackle Scope 3 emissions by helping firms engage Tier 1 suppliers on sustainability goals

A global nonprofit coalition of sustainability groups has launched an initiative to tackle Scope 3 emissions in the supply chain.

The We Mean Business Coalition (WMBC) work with the world’s most influential businesses to take action on climate change. It collaborates with a core group of seven business-focused climate nonprofit organisations to “accelerate the transition to a just and climate resilient net zero economy”, it says.

It also collaborates with a wider network of organisations “that help to realise our shared vision at speed and scale”.

Now, the WMBC has launched Supplier Cascade, an initiative to unlock business benefits through the management of Scope 3 emissions.

Greenhouse gas emissions are categorised into three groups, or 'Scopes'. Scopes 1 and 2 are emissions that are owned or controlled by a company. 

The approach is designed to cascade climate action through the supply chain by concentrating on areas that are within each organisation’s control.

Scope 3 emissions hold the key to making serious headway on reaching global net-zero targets by 2050. These are emissions that are a result of activities up and down a company’s supply chain, and for many organisations, Scope 3 comprises up 80% of total emissions

Supplier Cascade aims to overcome the Scope 3 challenge by urging companies to focus on what they can directly control: their relationship with Tier 1 suppliers and Scope 1 and 2 emissions.

The initiative aims to encourage each organisation to task their own Tier 1 suppliers to set a net zero target aligned with science, report key metrics and roll out the approach to their own direct suppliers.

Jenny Ahlen, Net Zero Managing Director at the Coalition, says: “Addressing Scope 3 emissions yields an attractive range of business benefits, from risk resilience and stakeholder satisfaction to first-mover advantages and early compliance. 

Taking control of Scope 3 emissions 'a challenge'

“But taking control of these emissions remains a challenge. The number of companies committed to climate action is higher than ever, yet organisations continue to cite the same major stumbling block: Scope 3 emissions, the indirect emissions that occur in the upstream and downstream activities of an organisation, which typically account for 70% of a company’s greenhouse gas footprint.”

Ahlen says a big sticking point on Scope 3 is that supply chains are many layers deep, and obtaining the right information and collaboration to enable improvements is a complex and expensive undertaking. 

“It’s no surprise that just 41% of companies who report to the Carbon Disclosure Project have reported any Scope 3 emissions at all,” says Ahlen.

She adds: “This is why the We Mean Business Coalition has launched the Supplier Cascade. It’s a practical approach that builds from proven best practice to help organisations start managing their Scope 3 emissions, regardless of their size, resources, or technical skills.

“Companies using the Supplier Cascade can focus their time and energy on their Tier 1 suppliers.

“Through Supplier Cascade, downstream companies will have access to quality primary data that is more useful to track progress than secondary data that is currently more commonly used, helping the companies to better understand what they need to do to accelerate decarbonisation.”

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