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Sustainability Project Moves from Pledges to In-the-Weeds Solutions

With the U.N.’s COP28 event on the horizon, the Net-Zero Carbon Events initiative readies new carbon measurement methodologies, reporting tools, and more.

The Net-Zero Carbon Events initiative is digging into a persistent problem for the meeting and events industry’s sustainability efforts: carbon measurement.

The NZCE measurement taskforce, or workstream, has analyzed 45 different event-carbon measurement tools and the results are far from consistent, according to Alexander Alles, executive director of the Joint Meetings Industry Council and head of NZCE’s project office.

“If you put the same event data in three different calculators, I'm pretty sure that you will have three different results, and this is simply not the way to go forward,” said Alles, who was at the IMEX America show in October to present an NZCE update.

Measurement is just one of eight NZCE workstreams charged with delivering concrete guidelines for event sustainability by the end of the year. Five of the workstreams are considered “priority action areas”: travel and accommodations, food and waste, production and waste, logistics, and venue energy. The other three workstreams tackle issues that are important across the board: measurement, carbon offsetting, and reporting.

The workstreams are the third phase of the ambitious NZCE initiative, which began in 2021, encouraging companies to sign a pledge to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 and meet an interim goal of reducing emissions by 50 percent by 2030.

When the 2023 United Nations Climate Change Conference (commonly known as COP) convenes in Dubai from November 30 until December 12, representatives from NZCE will once again be in attendance. At COP26, it delivered the events-industry pledge; at COP27, it delivered its “NZCE Roadmap,” a document that outlines the steps needed to achieve net zero; and this year at COP28, it will share its work on carbon measurement and other workstream projects.

“If the roadmap describes what to do in general,” said Alles, “we are now working on methodologies for how to implement.” Alles noted that more than 100 industry colleagues are currently contributing to workstream projects.

All resources created by NZCE are free and available to anyone at, including the NZCE Roadmap, a Phase-Three progress report on the workstreams, and, most recently, a best-practices report published in August that pulls together 130 event-decarbonization ideas.

As of October, 618 companies from 60 countries were involved with NZCE, Alles said, including more than 400 that are signatories to the pledge. Only companies directly involved in operating events, such as an organizer or a venue, can be a signatory.


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