Big news this week on net zero standards at London Climate Week

Announcing a groundbreaking initiative: the development of an independently verifiable international standard on net zero by BSi

Press Release, 27 June 2024: Work is underway to develop an independently verifiable international standard on net zero, in a landmark process convened by BSI to provide clarity on the net zero transition, enable robust climate action and accelerate progress towards a sustainable world.

The standard, which will be developed over the next 18 months with a view to being launched at COP30 in November 2025, is designed to provide a global solution to guide organizations as they embark on the net zero transition.

Development of the international standard on net zero will involve collaboration between thousands of experts through national standards bodies across more than 170 countries. BSI, in its role as the UK National Standards Body, in collaboration with ICONTEC, Colombia’s National Standards Body, is convening this process. A public consultation is expected to open later in 2025 to support global input and ensure all voices are heard. 

The standard will see the conversion of the ISO Net Zero Guidelines, which BSI led the international development process and launch of at COP27, facilitating organizations to create comprehensive net zero strategies by providing them with credible best practice. Converting these guidelines through the ISO process to create an independently verifiable international standard is designed to support organizations to have a clearer understanding of what credible net zero action looks like​, build confidence in what action needs to be taken. The standard will give the public greater confidence and guard against greenwashing by providing robust guidance and requirements to support conformity assessment, offering the potential to verify the credibility of claims.

The process is being formally launched today at London Climate Action Week as the first meeting of the international working group on net zero is convened to begin this important global process.

The launch follows research published by BSI and the University of Oxford this month on ‘Governing Net Zero: assessing convergence and gaps in the voluntary standards and guidelines landscape’. It also comes in the wake of a BSI study showing that while 83% of UK businesses are committed to achieving the UK’s legally binding net zero emissions target, 92% say barriers remain in place and a stubborn fifth remain wholly uncommitted to achieving net zero by 2050. BSI’s 2024 Net Zero Barometer found that overall, one in four (23%) UK businesses are not confident of achieving net zero by 2050 and 28% say their organization will be taking no action in the next 12 months on this. Nearly one in four (23%) organizations cited a lack of clarity on what net zero means as a barrier.

Susan Taylor Martin, Chief Executive, BSI said: “The launch of this standard development process is an important moment in the global effort to meet the climate challenge. While progress is being made to decarbonize key industries around the world, and many individuals and organizations are stepping up, the net zero landscape is complex and the lack of clarity risks slowing down efforts to turn ambition into action.

“This important collaboration, with BSI bringing together national standards bodies and their experts from around the world, represents a landmark opportunity to bring clarity, credibility and trust to the net zero transition process, and ultimately to help accelerate our common progress towards a sustainable world.”

BSI produced the world’s first environmental management standard in 1992, and since then has led the way in developing new standards around areas including energy management, modern slavery, sustainable finance and sustainable events. In 2021 BSI committed to the London Declaration, to actively factor climate science into the development of all new standards, and to update existing standards to reflect this as well.

Roberto Montoya, CEO, ICONTEC, said: For ICONTEC, chairing the group that developed the ISO Net Zero Guidelines was an enriching experience as we work in collaboration with both developing and developed countries.  Now, we have the great responsibility to be part of the leadership of the group that will develop the International Standard for Net Zero. We are conscious that achieving net zero requires a collaborative, ambitious and urgent effort, so we invite all countries to participate in the process, and together, establish the requirements that will serve as the basis for implementing credible, transparent, and verifiable actions to achieve net zero.”

Experts who wish to participate in the development of the standard can apply to join their National Standard Body’s climate change management committee by finding their country’s ISO member.

What happens next?

With over 170 countries involved and thousands of experts collaborating, this standard will convert the ISO – International Organization for Standardization Net Zero Guidelines into a verifiable framework, helping organizations navigate their path to net zero more effectively.

-Get involved by applying to join your ISO National Standard Body’s climate change management committee
-Public Consultation: Opening in 2025 to gather global input.
-Launch Date: Set to debut at COP30 in November 2025.

Source: BSI