What is Net-Zero?

Icebreaker One is here to help deliver a demonstrably net-zero future.

Net-zero is when any greenhouse gas emissions are reduced to zero in total.

This can only happen with a combination of both radically lower baseline emissions linked to the things we do (including transport, energy, water, agriculture, our built environment) as well as removing any remaining emissions with schemes that offset an equivalent amount of greenhouse gases from the atmosphere, such as planting trees or using technology like carbon capture and storage.

All such interventions will be disruptive to how we live today and require multidisciplinary action.

In the UK this is enshrined in law that commits the country to net-zero by 2050. Many countries have made national commitments to net-zero targets, but there are very few implementation plans to get us there.

At Icebreaker One we add the word ‘demonstrable‘ to indicate that any commitments must be quantifiable and provable throughout the process (from design to build, operation to decommissioning) from a financially-relevant perspective.

For example, an investor, asset manager or regulator could hold to account any project to delivery against the end targets throughout the lifecycle of the project. They could add warranties, covenants and related contractual clauses to hold organisations to account.

Equally, we must accelerate the reality of our climate science (and help translate the data) into policy and business strategy. To bring together the thinking and expertise to assess vulnerabilities (from assets to countries to global supply-chains) and opportunities (re-engineering our energy systems) requires us to gather experts across sectors and work through the challenges.

Our multidisciplinary teams are connecting climate science to policy, finance to engineering to help develop a coherent strategy for data-sharing: one that can help unlock real-world, relevant-time data flows from the point of investment, design and construction, continuously throughout its operation and finally measured at the point of decommissioning.

In our view, net-zero has to mandate not just after-the-fact reporting, but continuous information-flows throughout project lifecycles. To achieve this will require data-sharing at a scale we have never achieved, but we have the capabilities to do so today. We don’t need ‘new tech’, we need the will to join up our existing skills and expertise with the tools we already have and make them work for the benefit of everyone.

Doing so will enable the creation of:

  1. Climate-ready financial instruments
  2. Climate-aware risk management
  3. Climate-credible deployment of robust, long-term solutions for finance, infrastructure and assets

Looking into possible futures, we could also ask a question — could we frame net-zero as having a net-zero impact on our whole ecosystem (not just emissions, but all forms of pollution, waste and related harms)?