Toitū climate positive concept paper

Toitū climate positive programme logoGenesis of Toitū climate positive

Over its 20 years, Toitū has enabled businesses to take science-based action for a better environment. Since 2006, the carbonreduce and carbonzero certification programmes have enabled businesses to robustly measure, manage and reduce their emissions, and though carbonzero certification, offset their remaining emissions.

For many organisations, sustainability is a broader commitment than just carbon reduction. These organisations are seeking a more transformative, integrated, whole-of-system solution. Toitū enables this through the Toitū climate positive programme. This programme goes beyond reducing or neutralising impacts. It helps organisations move towards a net positive impact, to help create a regenerative future for Papatūānuku.

Toitū climate positive programme overview

The Toitū climate positive programme is designed to drive more ambitious and transformational action for a zero carbon future. This programme will enable climate leaders to take action on their commitment to transformational change and decarbonisation. We provide an action framework for each of our clients to enable them to take meaningful, long-lasting climate action. We certify your action as meeting or exceeding international best practice. The Toitū climate positive programme will require organisations to make science-aligned emissions reductions and engage with suppliers, staff and customers to create wider impact. In addition to emissions reductions, each year our Toitū climate positive clients will offset at least 25% more than their carbon footprint. Furthermore, our clients will contribute to broader social and environmental outcomes.

What do we mean by ‘decarbonise’?
‘Decarbonisation’ refers to the reduction and ultimately the elimination of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions. This means reducing your organisation’s impacts through a combination of doing business differently, and utilising new tools and technologies. To avoid the most catastrophic effects and limit warming to 1.5° C, we need to get global greenhouse emissions as close to zero as possible by 2050 - ideally sooner.

graphic illustrating the years of current emissions remaining that would use up the IPCC’s carbon budgets for different levels of warming: 1.5 degrees, 2 degrees and 3 degrees

Figure: Possible future scenarios; the blue area represents the global emissions that have already been emitted.

Why become a Toitū climate positive certified organisation?

There are many reasons to achieve Toitū climate positive certification.

  • Be a climate leader. To limit warming to 1.5°C we need meaningful climate action led by companies like yours. This will empower peers, suppliers and citizens to follow suit, which can drive governments to take bolder action. Action taken now will also leave a positive legacy for rangatahi and future generations.
  • Strengthen resilience. Understanding and reducing your organisation’s emissions can address risks such as the disruption to supply chains and better understand the reduced viability of ‘traditional’ business models. We have seen these disruptions during the Covid-19 pandemic. Making
  • Driving innovation. Encouraging innovation and creating new opportunities can help establish your organisation as an industry leader. For example, developing and selling IP for new climate-friendly concepts or breaking into new markets.
  • Boost profitability. Reducing your climate impacts can help you reduce major inputs from energy, water use and raw materials, which in turn affect your profit margins.
  • Enhance your organisation’s reputation while meeting market expectations. Increasingly, people expect that the companies they purchase goods and services from are environmentally responsible. The climate positive programme develops trust in your position with measurable action, not just intentions.
  • Be a science-backed organisation. The Toitū climate positive programme is designed around what the science tells to limit warming to 1.5°C, and avoid the most severe effects of climate change. You will have the confidence of knowing that the action you take is backed by the latest science.
  • Reduce the impact of regulatory uncertainty. Regulations and legislation, both in Aotearoa and internationally, will likely mandate significant change in the way businesses operate in the coming years. Taking positive action now can prepare your business for changes to come.


What does 'do more' than carbon neutral mean?

What does it mean to ‘do more’ than achieve carbon neutral? In designing this programme, we sought to respond to this question through extensive research of existing guidance, standards and other best practice literature. We also talked to our own customers to understand their needs and aspirations better. Because there is no single standard or definition for achieving ‘carbon positive’, we set out to develop our own. In setting the goals for this programme, Toitū has brought together the relevant best practices standards, as shown in Figure 1. ‘Best practice’ is continuously changing, and as it does, we will reflect this by making improvements and refinements to the Toitū climate positive programme requirements and guidance.

Examples of publications referenced for informing the Toitū climate positive Programme development

Figure 1. Examples of publications referenced for informing the Toitū climate positive Programme development

Scope of emissions measured

Measure iconSo what will be measured in practice?

To achieve Toitū climate positive organisational certification, applicants must measure Category 1 and 2 (Scope 1 and 2) emissions, and a subset of emissions associated with an organisation’s value chain – i.e., Category 3 to 6 (or Scope 3) sources (see Figure 2).

This subset of mandatory value chain emissions comprises activities that an organisation has some direct influence over, such as business travel or waste sent to landfill. The programme will also require the ‘screening’ (i.e., estimation using a purpose-designed tool) of the other elements of the value chain, which organisations may only have limited data on, such as how customers use products and dispose of waste. (We anticipate however that accessibility and accuracy of value chain data will improve over time as engagement in the programme broadens.) Figure 3 shows emissions requiring mandatory measurement (referred to as the Toitū carbon boundary) and the remaining value chain emissions requiring estimation using screening methods.

Where an organisation seeks climate positive certification for a product, the measurement starts with the full product lifecycle, and then estimates of any other operational or value chain emissions that may not be captured (see Figure 3).

Where emissions occur in the value chain

Figure 2. Where emissions occur in the value chain.

Measurement requirements of Toitū climate positive programme

Figure 3. Measurement requirements of Toitū climate positive programme.

Note: ‘Category’ and ‘scope’ are different terms used to mean essentially the same thing – grouping GHG emissions according to the level of influence and control an organisation has over them. ‘Category’ is the term used by the ISO 14064-1 standard to describe these groupings, and ‘Scope’ is the term used by the Greenhouse Gas Protocol. For more information on the respective definitions of category and scope and how they relate to the Toitū climate positive programme, see more here.

Our approach to Supply chain emissions

Supply chain emissions get a lot of scrutiny because these emissions can be significantly greater than a business’s own operational emissions (for example, a recent CDP (Climate Disclosure Project) report found that supply chain emissions are on average 11 times higher than operational emissions). Capturing a full supply chain measurement has challenges in terms of data availability, accuracy, and completeness.

Typically an organisation’s value chain inventory will comprise organisation-specific data for direct emissions and some indirect emissions such as business travel, freight, waste to landfill, and staff travel to and from work. This data will be supplemented by organisation-specific spend data and proxy methods (e.g., applying an emissions intensity ratio from one part of the business to another similar part of the business) and assumptions for producing a screening estimate of the remaining indirect emissions along the full supply chain.

The end result is a hybrid of fully measured inventory plus screening estimates. (As noted above, it is anticipated that over time, organisations will gain a fuller more accurate understanding of value-chain data (especially upstream), as suppliers begin to measure and reduce their impacts.) The full value chain estimate provides the applicant with full visibility of where their emissions occur and enables then to identify the priority areas to manage, whether directly or by engaging with suppliers, staff and customers.  See Figure 3.

Level of emissions reductions

Manage iconTo maintain integrity and alignment to the goals of the Paris Agreement, it is critical that the Toitū climate positive programme focuses on setting and achieving science-based reduction targets. The Science Based Targets Initiative (SBTi) offers a well-established set of criteria that demonstrate such targets.

To achieve Toitū climate positive certification, applicants are required to reduce emissions within the supply chain inventory, aligned to SBTi criteria. This includes a requirement to set take action towards targets for:

  • absolute reduction (as opposed to intensity reduction) of category 1 and 2 emissions, aligned to 1.5°C warming
  • absolute reduction of Toitū in-boundary category 3 to 6 emissions, aligned to well below 2°C warming
  • supplier engagement and other methods (such as intensity targets that meet SBTi definitions) for the remainder of the value chain emissions (such as purchased goods and services, capital goods, investments, downstream leased assets).

In addition to the above, the Toitū climate positive programme includes the opportunity for participants to:

  • identify and implement policies for promoting and supporting behaviour change opportunities to their customers
  • raise awareness of what role staff can have on managing the organisation's climate change impacts, and opportunities to measure and manage personal emissions
  • design products and services to minimise emissions from downstream users (such as by minimising waste to landfill, low embodied emissions materials and energy-efficient methods or materials).

Following the first year on the programme, applicants must:

  • every third year on the programme, demonstrate progress on the targets set
  • by the sixth year on the programme, demonstrate long-term aspirations for 2050 and beyond.

Emissions management and reduction requirements of Toitū climate positive programme
Figure 4. Emissions management and reduction requirements of Toitū climate positive programme.

Additional compensation requirements

Offset over and above

Mitigate or OffsetTo achieve Toitū climate positive organisation certification, applicants will be required to fully offset the emissions within the Toitū carbon boundary, plus an additional 25% (or more).

To achieve Toitū climate positive product certification, applicants will be required to fully offset the emissions of the product footprint, plus an additional 25% (or more).

We have set the minimum offset level to help cover the inherent level of uncertainty in any emissions calculations. For any specific footprint that has a greater level of uncertainty, the offset requirement will increase to compensate for that full amount.

Offset requirements of Toitū climate positive programme

Figure 5. Offset requirements of Toitū climate positive programme.

Broader social and environmental impacts

Improve iconIn addition to offsetting, Toitū climate positive applicants must include an ‘impact contribution’ to a project that helps wider society. This takes the form of an investment (equivalent to the cost of offsetting 75% of the organisation or product footprint) to a project or initiative that helps wider society to decarbonise, transition or adapt to climate change.

Impact contribution can include:

  • Futures: Supporting initiatives that will contribute to greenhouse gas reductions, avoidance or removals, such as pest eradication projects, wetland and peatland restoration or enhancement, marine restoration projects, or similar. Such initiatives can include research and technology development as well as on-the-ground initiatives.
  • Just transition: Initiatives that support society to achieve a just transition, such as fair trade or fair-living wage (to increase society’s ability to afford to take action to reduce emissions), or more equitable access to low-carbon technologies.
  • Resilience: Initiatives that help build resilience to climate change, such as protection against coastal sea-level rise, flood control and response, or the development of drought-resilience strategies.

Impact contribution will be evaluated using a scorecard system that encompasses social and environmental parameters, science alignment, and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. In addition, the Toitū climate positive programme includes the opportunity for participants to promote opportunities for staff and customers to reduce and offset their personal emissions.

In Summary – What are the steps to Toitū climate positive certification?

We will provide a framework to enable your organisation to take meaningful, science-led and ambitious climate action. These are the steps your organisation needs to complete to achieve Toitū climate positive certification:

  1. Measure carbon footprint and screen wider carbon responsibility across your organisation’s value chain
  2. Set science-aligned reduction targets for direct and indirect sources
  3. Engage with the value chain to accelerate action
  4. Compensate to go beyond neutrality to at least 125%
  5. Invest in a project that helps the wider sector or society decarbonise, make a just transition, or adapt to climate change impacts. (This investment contribution needs to be equivalent to the cost of offsetting 75% of the programme’s mandatory emissions.)

Toitū climate positive annual cycle

Get in touch

Get in touch to find out more about how Toitū Envirocare can help your organisation make its next steps to a lower carbon future. You can reach us at 0800 366 275 or email us on