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Eliasson, Kajsa, 2023. How to turn “less bad” into good without limit : to measure companies’ positive climate impact. Second cycle, A2E. Uppsala: SLU, Dept. Of Aquatic Resources



Climate change is an urgent problem threatening life as we know it. To combat the problem there is a high need to reduce this generation’s human-induced Greenhouse Gasses (GHGs). Today’s societies consist of complex networks of actors, and solving the problems of climate change will require contributions from all types of actors, not least from companies. At the same time as the expectations and the demands on companies’ environmental responsibility are getting higher, measuring and reporting climate impact has become more and more common among companies. The currently most common approach for companies’ climate impact is focused on doing less harm by lowering the company’s emissions as close to zero as possible. The best possible outcome from a scenario where all companies stick to working within their own company’s boundaries, using the ”less bad” approach, is that some companies reach net zero. With the current degree of environmental harm, however, that would not be long-term sustainable. Instead, more companies need to raise their sights and also start looking beyond their own boundaries to see what more can be done. With such a shift, the focus does not only switch from guilt and burdens to opportunities but also removes the limit for how much positive climate impact a company can have.
There are businesses, like the digitalization consultancy sector, that have opportunities for achieving a positive climate impact since their own climate impact is vanishingly small in comparison to the climate improvements they can achieve through their operations. By working with reducing other companies’ emissions, digitalization consultants can overcompensate for their own emissions, making it possible for them to achieve a net positive climate impact in comparison to a Business As Usual (BAU) scenario.
For solution providers, such as digitalization consultants to become profitable and get the distribution they need, there is a need for them to be able to measure and demon-strate their generated positive effect. In this thesis, ways in which positive climate impact can be measured and demonstrated by digitalization consultancy companies are investigated. The findings show that there are at least five terms in the industry, used synonymously to describe this positive effect, Scope 4, Avoided emissions, Enabling effect, Carbon handprint, and Comparative emissions. Findings also show that there are existing frameworks and methods available, that theoretically are capable of quantifying this positive effect. The thesis suggests three frameworks that seem to be most suitable for digitalization consultants, and among these, the most comprehensive is the Avoided Emission Framework (AEF) provided by Mission Innovation. All of the founded frame-works do, however, come with practical challenges, for instance, related to the required data, the measurement techniques, and the need of making future predictions. Further, since one of the main purposes of the assessments is to enable comparisons based on the climate capacity of different alternatives, the lack of real applications makes the contextual field missing, making any given outcome from current methods difficult to use and hard to interpret. This dilemma raises the question of whether it is best to start using a framework that contains challenges and unsolved problems or wait until the perfect framework has evolved. This gets answered with the suggestion that companies preferable should continue exploring the field of Scope 4 by adopting a transparent approach, and keep testing out the methods to contribute to their further development.

Main title:How to turn “less bad” into good without limit
Subtitle:to measure companies’ positive climate impact
Authors:Eliasson, Kajsa
Supervisor:Östman, Örjan and Engström, Dan
Examiner:Astner, Hanna
Series:Examensarbete / SLU, Institutionen för ekonomi
Volume/Sequential designation:1506
Year of Publication:2023
Level and depth descriptor:Second cycle, A2E
Student's programme affiliation:None
Supervising department:(NL, NJ) > Dept. Of Aquatic Resources
Keywords:digitalization, avoided emission, carbon handprint, Scope 4, building, construction, building 4.0, consultancy, project-based industries, carbon assessment, environmental impact, environmental strategies, climate potential
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Subject. Use of subject categories until 2023-04-30.:Pollution
Deposited On:06 Apr 2023 09:58
Metadata Last Modified:07 Apr 2023 01:00

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