What is PAS 2060 Certification?
If you’re an organisation currently looking at reducing your carbon footprint, you might have come across the PAS 2060 certification. In short, it’s the only internationally recognised accreditation for organisational carbon neutrality
While you may be able to claim carbon neutrality, without getting official certification from an accredited body like the British Standards Institute (BSI), sceptics and others scrutinising your claims will be unlikely to take your word as gospel.
Thus, the onus is on you to not only prove that your organisation is carbon neutral, but that you are following best practices in doing so.
So, with that in mind, let’s take a closer look at PAS 2060.
PAS 2060: The Best Standard for Carbon Neutrality
As mentioned, the PAS 2060 standard is the only internationally recognised standard for organisational carbon neutrality and is, therefore, the benchmark companies should aim to achieve when pursuing sustainability initiatives, including net zero.
The standard was first published by the BSI in 2010 and later revised in 2014. Today, it acts as a verification of a company or organisation’s claims of carbon neutrality. Crucially, it provides entities looking to achieve carbon-neutral status with a framework and pathway to do so.
It also includes guidance for specific areas of concern (such as activities, products, services, etc.) and outlines best practices for each.
While some companies want to carry on without dramatically altering their day-to-day operations, those serious about becoming neutral should realise that carbon reduction is a key component of the process rather than merely trying to offset emissions through the purchase of carbon credits.
What Are The Benefits of Achieving PAS 2060?
Several immediate and obvious benefits accompany achieving PAS 2060 certification. They include but are not limited to the following:
- Uncontestable carbon neutrality: With the only internationally-recognised standard for carbon neutrality, PAS 2060 certification provides organisations with irrefutable evidence of their sustainable credentials.
- Gain a competitive advantage by offering greener products and services: Consumers are increasingly environmentally-aware in their purchasing decisions. By gaining PAS 2060 certification, businesses can signal to potential customers that they offer carbon-neutral products and services, helping secure new business.
- Do your bit to help combat climate change: Everyone needs to act to solve the climate crisis. By going carbon-neutral and achieving PAS 2060 certification, you tell the world that your organisation is serious about tackling carbon emissions and helping the global effort.
- Improve efficiency and reap significant business cost savings: By moving away from unnecessary or avoidable energy consumption and waste, organisations can improve efficiency and realise significant cost savings.
What Are the Requirements for PAS 2060 Certification?
The certification criteria for PAS 2060 are pretty stringent and robust (although not as far-reaching as net zero), which should be viewed as positive for organisations genuinely pursuing sustainability.
To achieve certification, a company must:
- Measure the footprint within a clearly defined boundary (for example, a product’s lifecycle or Scope 1 and 2 emissions for organisations).
- Develop qualifying explanatory statements (QES) including:
- A statement of commitment
- A timescale for achievement
- A carbon management plan and targets for GHG reductions
- A credible plan backed by investment to achieve ongoing emissions reductions to reduce reliance on offsets over time
- Purchase high-quality offsets such as Gold Standard, VCS and Woodland Code UK to compensate for all remaining emissions.
While it’s not perfect (there’s no requirement to reduce emissions to a specific trajectory such as net zero’s 1.5°C), PAS 2060 is an excellent start for those serious about reducing their environmental impact.
What Are the Four Stages Involved in Achieving PAS 2060 Certification?
One of the best features of PAS 2060 is that it provides a straightforward framework for those looking to become a carbon-neutral business or organisation. The accreditation is broken down into four key stages:
Step One: Measuring Your Carbon Footprint
The natural place to start is by measuring and calculating your carbon footprint – in other words, how much CO2 your organisation, product, or activity is responsible for emitting into the atmosphere.
If you’re hoping to achieve organisation-wide carbon neutrality, the recommended calculation methodologies are ISO 14064-1 or the GHG Corporate Protocol. If you’re only pursuing a carbon-neutrality on a specific product or service, then the route to go down is a PAS 2050 lifecycle assessment.
Your carbon footprint calculation should include 100% of Scope 1 and Scope 2 emissions relating to your company or products and as much of Scope 3 as is feasible. They are defined as follows:
- Scope 1: Direct emissions from activities under an organisation’s direct control, such as emissions from your company’s fleet of vehicles.
- Scope 2: Indirect emissions related to the production of electricity, heat and steam that the organisation purchases. For instance, the emissions produced when creating the energy you subsequently buy to light your company’s building(s).
- Scope 3: All other indirect emissions resulting from activities that are neither owned nor controlled by you. These are emissions across the entire value chain, including transportation of goods up and down the supply chain and emissions from supplier factories.
You are encouraged to cover Scope 3 in your measurements. However, there is a recognition that, for the purposes of this certification, it may not be realistic or feasible to calculate all emissions falling under Scope 3.
Step 2: Reduce Carbon Emissions
Once calculated and quantified, the next step should be to reduce these emissions. You must develop what is known as a Carbon Footprint Management Plan that will address key elements of your carbon reduction strategy, including:
- Timescales on your carbon reductions
- Targets for your emissions reductions
- Methods for achieving those reductions
- Carbon offsetting methods for any remaining residual emissions
As highlighted above, you are not bound to specific timescales, and you set your own targets. However, it would be best if you were reducing your emissions faster than your rate of economic growth.
Execution of your carbon management plan should see you reduce both your overall emissions and the carbon intensity of your operations (such as C02 emitted per £ of revenue or CO2 emitted per unit of production) over time.
Step Three: Offsetting Remaining Carbon Emissions
The next step involves offsetting any remaining residual carbon emissions via carbon credits. What’s great about the PAS 2060 scheme is that you can’t just offset your carbon emissions in any old scheme; they have to be high-quality programs that meet the following criteria:
- They are within one of the schemes approved by PAS 2060 (e.g., Clean Development Mechanism or Verified Carbon Standard).
- They have additionality (i.e. carbon reductions that would not have occurred were it not for the project being financed).
- They are verified by an independent third party to ensure that emissions reductions are permanent, avoid double counting and prevent leakage (i.e. emissions are not increased in another area as a result of a project activity).
- Credits are retired from a public record within 12 months (so they can’t be reused).
These robust criteria ensure any emissions reductions achieved through carbon offsets are of the highest quality possible and that they’re not at the expense of other environmental issues.
Step Four: Documentation and Verification
The process’s fourth and final stage involves verifying your carbon neutrality status. This step effectively requires you, as an organisation, to provide proof of carbon neutrality through extensive documentation.
In addition to your Qualifying Explanatory Statements (QES), which qualify and explain how you’ve met the requirements, you’ll also need to publicly disclose all documentation relating to the work undertaken, including:
- Proof of emissions reductions
- Documentation concerning carbon credit expenditures and schemes
- Your Carbon Footprint Measurement Report
- Your Carbon Footprint Management Plan
There are three methods to validate (verify) your carbon neutrality: self-validation, validation from another party, or independent validation by a third party.
For self-validation, you verify your own carbon footprint reductions. But the obvious drawback of this method is that you’ll have to check everything yourself, and you run the risk of miscalculating your carbon footprint and your neutrality statement not standing up to scrutiny.
When you enlist external parties for verification, you hold yourself to a much higher standard of scrutiny. This validation method is a must for companies that want to market and guarantee their carbon neutrality status. The gold standard is to enlist an independent, UKAS-registered certification body (such as BSI or the Carbon Trust) to undertake the verification on your behalf.
What Support is Available to Companies Exploring Carbon Neutrality?
Whether you’re looking to enhance brand value, make a genuine commitment to sustainability, or improve business performance through cost savings, carbon neutrality is an excellent place to start. However, if activities such as carbon footprint measurement are entirely new to you, the process can seem overwhelming.
If you lack the experience and expertise in-house to implement the requirements of PAS 2060, then you should consider employing an external consultancy to help. At Beyond Procurement, our carbon footprint consultants have already helped deliver carbon-neutral certification to organisations large and small, ranging from SMEs to global corporations.
With our suite of business carbon measurement tools, industry-leading carbon offset projects, and a team of low-carbon procurement experts, we’re perfectly placed to help companies and organisations of all shapes and sizes achieve their carbon-neutrality goals.
While progressing to carbon-neutral status will force you to take a long, hard look at your business and its carbon footprint, the process will run much smoother with the help of experienced consultants. You can enjoy far less friction and business interruption while making real progress towards improving your environmental and business performance.
To learn more about our carbon-neutrality consultancy services, call us on 01444 416529 or book your free 15-minute consultation via our online calendar.