Tuesday, 9 June 2009

UK guidance on calculating carbon emissions

It's a sign that things are starting to get serious when the government produces guidelines on how to measure greenhouse gas emissions, as the UK government's Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has just done. The Consultation document is here.

Actually the guidance was required by the recently introduced Climate Change Act. The Act also requires a review in 2010 to evaluate the contribution that reporting on GHG emissions is making and also requires that reporting be made mandatory by 6th April 2012.

As far as I can tell there is nothing new in here in terms of how emissions are actually calculated. Its just a more thorough and comprehensive description of best practice. Defra's methodology is based on the GHG Protocol and advises that GHG tools be used if the Defra tools, which are still under development, are not available or overseas data is required.

As the guidance points out, some organisations will already be reporting some emissions data for regulatory schemes such as the EU Emissions Trading Scheme (EU ETS), the UK's Climate Change Agreements (CCAs), as well as the forthcoming Carbon Reduction Commitment (CRC) (See previous blog). These schemes only cover some of an organisation’s total GHG emissions as the (rather fetching) diagram below shows. The Defra guidelines, on the other hand, covers the total corporate carbon footprint.

It does illustrate how complicated GHG reporting can be, as well as highlighting the extent of the opportunity for the growing band of Carbon Emissions Management Software (CEMS) suppliers who are poised to help.

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