Thursday, 6 October 2011

New greenhouse gas measuring standards released

On Tuesday the Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Protocol launched two new standards. The Corporate Value Chain (Scope 3) and Product Life Cycle Standards are designed to help businesses to better measure, manage and report their greenhouse gas emissions.

The Greenhouse Gas Protocol Initiative was formed by the World Resources Institute (WRI) and the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD). The organisation developed what is now the de-facto standard methodology for measuring greenhouse gas emissions and the basis for most emissions legislation.

I reported on the two new standards when they finished their initial road testing just over a year ago. They were created to help businesses measure their climate impact beyond their own operations:

  • The Corporate Value Chain Standard will give a better view of emissions across a company’s value chain, including the products it produces, buys and sells, and hence where to focus resources to have the biggest emissions impact.

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  • With the Product Life Cycle Standard companies can measure a product’s entire emissions from materials, manufacturing, use and disposal. It should result in better product design and more informed consumer choices.

 

It’s taken a while for the standards to emerge – after the testing phase the final versions were expected in March this year. But the time taken is not really surprising given the number of organisations involved. Apparently more than 2,300 participants from 55 countries, representing business, NGOs, academics and policy makers, contributed to the process and 60 companies road tested the new standards.

Universal standards are certainly needed. Many companies now measure their directly created emissions and those from the electricity they use (GHG’s Scope 1 and Scope 2) but it’s harder to account for indirect (Scope 3) emissions – often companies don’t get past measuring business travel. The lack of a clear methodologies has been a contributing factor. But the Carbon Trust in the UK last week reported research that found that 42% of multinational companies not currently addressing supply chain emissions plan to do so within the next 12 months. This new standard should help the process as well as making comparisons between companies more meaningful.

The Product Life Cycle Standard will also make it easier to compare products and encourage competition between companies – it’s apparently particularly suited to international organisations. The Carbon Trust has also announced that it is the first organisation to certify to the new standard, which will be offered alongside the existing BSI PAS 2050 standard.

Both standards will no doubt shortly be included in the variety of carbon emissions management software solutions now available in the market. It’s an area of green ICT that’s constantly evolving, with new standards, legislation and voluntary reporting agreements emerging all the time.

© The Green IT Review

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