With evermore demands for businesses to take meaningful climate action and a growing focus on greenwash, here are five steps for those wishing to shape their climate ambition.

1. Consider business context

This is really about understanding the why from the business perspective, the operating context and the potential opportunities. Drivers may be responsible business commitments, meeting shareholder / stakeholder expectations, regulatory compliance, market opportunity, cost savings, corporate brand and / or positioning against competitors. 

2. Determine the level of ambition

This will depend on the business context and starting point. For example the environmental capabilities, expertise and credentials already in place. Pursuing science-based targets enables a data driven approach to determining meaningful targets and an emissions' reduction pathway. Aligning an ambition to limit global warming to 1.5oC is now relatively standard. Whatever the ambition do make sure it is substantiated with respected and transparent reference points.

3. Focus on material elements and quick wins

Having established a complete carbon footprint in terms of Scope 1, 2 and the relevant categories of Scope 3, focus on the largest contributors in terms of the overall footprint. As understanding of Scope 3 (indirect supply chain emissions) builds it can be surprising to see the size of these emissions such as with the 'Purchase of Goods and Services'. Also take the easier steps such as switching to renewable electricity sources in respect of Scope 2.

4. Maximise Impact

Taking a holistic and collaborative approach will help to accelerate and maximise impact. This is about collaborating with stakeholders and not-for-profits to access support resources and shared learnings as well as driving joint initiatives. Increasingly sectors have their own Net Zero collaborations and sustainability focus groups as well as pan-industry organisations such as the CBI, Business in the Community and the UN Global Compact. 

5. Reflect, learn and adapt

Things invariable change and organisational expertise and understanding grows. There will be challenges for example with supply chain influence, changing standards and technical terminology, data completeness and accuracy, accessing required expertise, budgets and bringing people along. Its important to make a start, have accountability and ownership and not be afraid of an incomplete picture. Participating in benchmarks such as CDP Climate are helpful to understand strengths and weakness, and to encourage consideration of the climate opportunities, as well as the risks.