This article is a part of Carbonable’s “Introduction to Carbon Contribution.” We recommend starting with the first article if you are new to the series.
In our second installment of the Introduction to Carbon Contribution series, we examine the MRC framework. This practical tool distills the journey to net zero into clear, actionable steps for organizations committed to achieving their contribution goals.
With the growing urgency of climate change and increasing government and public concern, net zero is quickly becoming a strategic priority for companies worldwide. The EU’s recent Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSRD) clarifies that mandatory sustainability reporting is no longer a distant prediction but an immediate reality for many European companies.¹
This shift underscores the critical need for companies to quickly and accurately integrate net zero goals into their business strategies. But how does one begin this journey?
While achieving net zero may seem complicated, the MRC sequence simplifies it. This framework, which stands for Measure, Reduce (and Avoid), and Contribute, provides a starting point and actionable steps.
In this article, we’ll examine how the MRC framework helps translate net zero goals into actionable steps while highlighting critical considerations for companies embarking on this path.
The MRC Sequence Explained
First, the MRC framework is not merely a checklist but a roadmap for organizations, guiding them away from pitfalls such as greenwashing and highlighting the tangible challenges in achieving net zero. Below, we break down the MRC sequence in more detail:
Step 1: Measure
A critical first step towards net zero is understanding the full extent of one’s carbon footprint. This phase involves a detailed audit and assessment of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, encompassing all aspects of the company’s operations, partners, and supply chain.
Before anything, a company should complete a detailed audit and assessment to account for greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions across three defined scopes.² These include:
- Scope 1 (Direct Emissions): Emissions stemming directly from sources owned or controlled by the organization. This scope encompasses emissions from company-owned vehicles, facilities, and other operational processes.
- Scope 2 (Indirect Emissions from Purchased Energy): These are emissions from the generation of purchased utilities, such as electricity, steam, heating, and cooling, which the company consumes. While these emissions might originate off-site, they correlate directly to the organization’s energy consumption patterns.
- Scope 3 (Other Indirect Emissions): A broad category covering emissions arising from activities of the organization but from sources not directly owned or controlled by it. Examples include emissions tied to the creation of procured materials, business travel outside of company-owned assets, waste management processes, and the eventual utilization of products the company sells.
By conducting a detailed audit and assessment of all greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions produced, an organization can map its current environmental impact and identify areas for improvement and further reduction. This initial assessment serves as the foundation for all future carbon reduction efforts. However, it is essential to note that this is not a one-time activity but an ongoing process that must be continually monitored and refined as a company’s ESG strategy progresses.³
Step 2: Reduction
After assessing their emissions, companies must shift focus to reduction and avoidance. This phase involves implementing direct methods for cutting emissions and strategies for avoiding additional emissions.
Example actions in this phase could include, but are not limited to:
- Adopting Virtual Alternatives: Opting for virtual meetings instead of in-person gatherings can significantly reduce carbon emissions associated with travel.
- Choosing Renewable Energy Sources: For new constructions or operations, prioritizing renewable energy sources helps prevent additional emissions.
- Transitioning to Sustainable Operations: Implementing methods such as switching to electric transportation fleets or using sustainable packaging materials can substantially lower emission levels.⁴
The primary aim of this step is to minimize compressible emissions as much as possible. By doing so, companies set a solid foundation for moving toward their net-zero targets.
Step 3: Contribution
For virtually all companies, once they have finished measuring, avoiding, and reducing emissions, there will still be incompressible GHG emissions that cannot be reduced. As the SBTI outlines, once organizations have successfully reduced 90% of their emissions, they need to turn to other measures to eliminate the remaining 10% — this next step is known as carbon contribution.⁵
In practice, carbon contribution means supporting methods that remove carbon from the atmosphere, such as nature-based projects, carbon capture technologies, or participation in the Voluntary Carbon Market (VCM) in purchasing and retiring carbon credits.
The carbon contribution phase is the final step in the MRC process, as mitigation and avoidance measures should always come first. The fact is, however, that companies must rely on more than just achieving net zero by meeting science-based emission reduction targets. As the IPCC has reported, it is essential that companies also effectively eliminate their remaining carbon emissions through trusted and verified means.⁶
These carbon removal methods and tools will be explored later in our series, but for now, it’s important to remember that carbon removal should be the final and mandatory step in a company’s neutrality journey.
Today’s global business environment increasingly evaluates companies not just on their financial performance but also on their environmental impact. The MRC Sequence thus emerges as a vital, actionable framework for businesses pursuing net zero. While frameworks like the MRC are critical, the actual difference is made through genuine commitment and sustained efforts.
At Carbonable, our mission is to equip companies with insights and tools that make carbon removal processes easier, transparent, and more efficient. As we progress in our collective journey towards net zero, these informed, transparent, and practical actions will mark the companies genuinely driving environmental change.
This article is a part of our series designed to simplify the route to net zero for businesses. Follow us and stay tuned for more insights on the voluntary carbon market and pragmatic strategies to help you reach your climate goals.
Join a community that makes actionable sustainability a priority. Follow Carbonable on LinkedIn to stay informed about carbon removal strategies that support your company’s net-zero goals with unparalleled transparency and efficiency.
Let’s redefine carbon contribution together.