Thursday, 24 July 2008

Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reporting

The Ethical Corporation Institute, the research arm of the UK-based Ethical Corporation 'an independent media firm, launched in 2001 to encourage debate and discussion on responsible business' has published a report into greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reporting.

The report highlights one of the major problems surrounding the calculating and reporting of emissions, i.e. that companies are doing it in a variety of different ways. Apparently the responses from the FT 500 companies to the last completed survey by the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP) revealed the use of 34 different methodologies to report on emissions. Since the whole point is to be able to make realistic comparisons between companies and track progress against targets over time, this inconsistency renders the process much less effective.

My own view is that there is no excuse for not using one of a handful of recognised methodologies, which tend to be very similar. The most widely recognised and used, and recommended by the CDP, is the GHG Protocol, from the Greenhouse Gas Protocol Initiative, which is itself a joint initiative from the World Resources Institute (WRI), a U.S.-based environmental NGO, and the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD), a Geneva-based coalition of 200 international companies.

It's essential to use a standard methodology and reporting structure, which is why I believe the CDP is a good place to start, simply because it has the longest track record and gathers more corporate climate change information than anyone else.

The next stage is to have emissions data verified, which the report says only just over half the companies using reporting standards actually do. But the report also highlights that the cost of the process of collecting data and calculating emissions varied from €75,000 to €800,000, with another €50,000-€500,000 for verification.

The full report is available (at a price) from here.

© The Green IT Review

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