Carbon emissions reporting

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Human activities continue to impact Earth's climate through the emission of greenhouse gases.[1] One of the proposed ways to combat this climate change is through reporting by businesses on the impact of their activities. Large power stations and manufacturing plants are often required to report their emissions to appropriate government entities, for example to the European Union as part of the Emissions Trading System [2] or to the US EPA as part of the Greenhouse Gas Reporting Program.[3] In the United Kingdom, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) has described climate change as the "greatest environmental challenge facing the world today,"[1] and it is now a legal requirement for all quoted companies to report their annual greenhouse gas emissions.[4]

Mandatory Greenhouse Gas reporting[edit]

In the past there were several attempts to institute mandatory reporting legislation but none has been implemented in the US. In the wake of BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico and increasing social awareness about the environment, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) started the environmental Greenhouse Gas Reporting Program. The EPA’s GHG reporting program became a law on January 1, 2010. It forces 85% of the nation’s top emitters to report on how much GHG they have emitted. According to this law companies are due to report their emission for the year of 2010 on March 21 of 2011.

In the first year of this legislation only 85% of the nations leading emitters are required to report their annual reports. Plans are to slightly increase this number each year to ultimately have 100% of major emitters in the nation to start keep tabs on the amount they emit.

This program is the initial step into countering rising emissions rate. While many believe that if companies are forced to report their emissions, they will be more inclined to lower their impact, this effect has not been thoroughly studied. The ability to attract more investment as consumers prefer environmentally friendly products may be another incentive, but again there is little evidence to support any strong claims.

In June 2012, the UK coalition government announced the introduction of mandatory carbon reporting, requiring all UK companies listed on the Main Market of the London Stock Exchange - around 1,100 of the UK’s largest listed companies - to report their greenhouse gas emissions every year.[5] Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg confirmed that emission reporting rules would come into effect from April 2013 in his piece for The Guardian.[6] However, this date has now been set to 1 October 2013.[7]

ISO 14064[edit]

The ISO 14064 standards for greenhouse gas accounting and verification published on 1 March 2006 by ISO (International Organization for Standardization) provide government and industry with an integrated set of tools for programmes aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions, as well as for emissions trading.[8]

Part 1 (Specification with guidance at the organization level for quantification and reporting of greenhouse gas emissions and removals)[edit]

ISO 14064-1:2006 specifies principles and requirements at the organization level for quantification and reporting of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and removals. It includes requirements for the design, development, management, reporting and verification of an organization's GHG inventory.[9]

Part 2 (Specification with guidance at the project level for quantification, monitoring and reporting of greenhouse gas emission reductions or removal enhancements)[edit]

ISO 14064-2:2006 specifies principles and requirements and provides guidance at the project level for quantification, monitoring and reporting of activities intended to cause greenhouse gas (GHG) emission reductions or removal enhancements. It includes requirements for planning a GHG project, identifying and selecting GHG sources, sinks and reservoirs relevant to the project and baseline scenario, monitoring, quantifying, documenting and reporting GHG project performance and managing data quality.[10]

Part 3 (Specification with guidance for the validation and verification of greenhouse gas assertions)[edit]

ISO 14064-3:2006 specifies principles and requirements and provides guidance for those conducting or managing the validation and/or verification of greenhouse gas (GHG) assertions. It can be applied to organizational or GHG project quantification, including GHG quantification, monitoring and reporting carried out in accordance with ISO 14064-1 or ISO 14064-2.[11]

Greenhouse Gas Protocol (GHGP)[edit]

Many companies have adopted the standards put forth by the Greenhouse Gas Protocol,[12] a partnership between the World Resources Institute (WRI) and the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD).The Greenhouse Gas Protocol (GHGP) provides accounting and reporting standards, sector guidance, calculation tools, and trainings for business and government. It establishes a comprehensive, global, standardized framework for measuring and managing emissions from private and public sector operations, value chains, products, cities, and policies.[13] A new universal method for logistics emissions accounting has been launched in June 2016[14] in collaboration with the World Resources Institute (WRI) and the Greenhouse Gas protocol.[15] It's called the GLEC framework (Global Logistics Emissions Council).[16] The Greenhouse Gas Protocol is recognized by the UK government as an independent standard for reporting greenhouse gases.[17] The Greenhouse Gas Protocol[18] divides emissions into 3 Scopes.

Scope 1: Direct GHG emissions[edit]

Scope 1 covers all direct GHG emissions by a company.[19] It includes fuel combustion, company vehicles and fugitive emissions.[20]

Scope 2: Electricity indirect GHG emissions[edit]

Scope 2 covers indirect GHG emissions from consumption of purchased electricity, heat or steam.[21]

Scope 3: Other indirect GHG emissions[edit]

Scope 3 covers other indirect emissions, such as the extraction and production of purchased materials and fuels, transport-related activities in vehicles not owned or controlled by the reporting entity, electricity-related activities (e.g. T&D losses) not covered in Scope 2, outsourced activities, waste disposal, etc.[22] Scope 3 emissions (also known as value chain emissions) often represent the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions and in some cases can account for up to 90% of the total carbon impact.[23]

Upstream activities[edit]

Cradle-to-gate (sometimes referred to as "upstream") emission factors, which include all emissions that occur in the life cycle of a material/product up to the point of sale by the producer.[24]

Downstream activities[edit]

Emission factors that occur in the life cycle of a material/product after the sale by the producer. This includes distribution and storage, use of the product and end-of-life.[25]

Cooperation: ISO, WRI, and WBSCD[edit]

ISO (International Organization for Standardization), the World Resources Institute (WRI) and the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) under which they have agreed to jointly promote the ISO 14064 standards and the WRI and WBCSD GHG Protocol standards. The move is in response to concerns among businesses and GHG program designers that the two standards might not be consistent and mutually supportive. In fact, for corporate accounting, requirements and guidance contained in ISO and GHG Protocol standards are consistent and they are designed so that they can be used in a complementary manner.[26]

Criticism[edit]

Whilst specific critiques of carbon reporting have emerged (see below) by and large, the actual practice of how organisations account for and report emissions remains understudied.[27][28] Studies of practices of carbon accounting and reporting point to systemic externalities and raise issues about accountability.[29][30]

Double counting[edit]

When two or more individuals or organizations claim ownership of specific emission reductions or carbon offsets.[31] Double-counting occurs when the greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) resulting from a particular activity are allocated to multiple parties in a supply chain, so that the total allocated emissions exceed the total actual emissions of that activity.[32] For investors and according to cross-asset footprint calculations, double-counting can reach about 30-40% of an institutional investor’s portfolio emissions.[33]

Data quality[edit]

A recent academic study (2004) on corporate disclosure of greenhouse gas emissions found that only 15 percent of companies that disclose GHG emissions report them in a manner that the authors consider complete with respect to scope of emissions, type of emissions, and reporting boundary.[34] Another study (2012) of a Fortune 50 multinational company details the quality of how data was sourced and discusses the politics of making judgments about data quality.[35]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change 2013 Summary for Policymakers. http://templatelab.com/climatechange-WGI-AR5-SPM-brochure/
  2. ^ EU Emissions Trading System. http://ec.europa.eu/clima/policies/ets/index_en.htm
  3. ^ EPA Greenhouse Gas Reporting Program. http://www.epa.gov/ghgreporting/index.html
  4. ^ "Mandatory carbon reporting". Carbon Trust. Retrieved 2012-11-12. 
  5. ^ Guide to UK Mandatory Carbon Reporting. http://ecometrica.com/products/our-impacts/mandatory-carbon-reporting/
  6. ^ Juliette, Jowit (19 June 2012). "New emissions policy will force biggest UK firms to reveal CO2 figures". The Guardian. Retrieved 10 January 2013. 
  7. ^ http://ecometrica.com/products/our-impacts/mandatory-carbon-reporting/
  8. ^ "New ISO 14064 standards provide tools for assessing and supporting greenhouse gas reduction and emissions trading (2006-03-03) - ISO". www.iso.org. Retrieved 2016-02-29. 
  9. ^ "ISO 14064-1:2006 - Greenhouse gases -- Part 1: Specification with guidance at the organization level for quantification and reporting of greenhouse gas emissions and removals". www.iso.org. Retrieved 2016-02-29. 
  10. ^ "ISO 14064-2:2006 - Greenhouse gases -- Part 2: Specification with guidance at the project level for quantification, monitoring and reporting of greenhouse gas emission reductions or removal enhancements". www.iso.org. Retrieved 2016-02-29. 
  11. ^ "ISO 14064-3:2006 - Greenhouse gases -- Part 3: Specification with guidance for the validation and verification of greenhouse gas assertions". www.iso.org. Retrieved 2016-02-29. 
  12. ^ Greenhouse Gas Protocol. http://www.ghgprotocol.org/
  13. ^ "Greenhouse Gas Protocol | World Resources Institute". www.wri.org. Retrieved 2016-02-27. 
  14. ^ "Smart Freight Centre". Smart Freight Centre. Retrieved 2016-07-23. 
  15. ^ "GLEC Framework: a universal method for logistics emissions accounting | Greenhouse Gas Protocol". www.ghgprotocol.org. Retrieved 2016-07-23. 
  16. ^ "Smart Freight Centre". Smart Freight Centre. Retrieved 2016-07-23. 
  17. ^ "Environmental Reporting Guidelines: including mandatory greenhouse gas emissions reporting guidance - Publications - GOV.UK". www.gov.uk. Retrieved 2016-02-27. 
  18. ^ "Greenhouse Gas Protocol". www.ghgprotocol.org. Retrieved 2016-02-27. 
  19. ^ "FAQ | Greenhouse Gas Protocol". www.ghgprotocol.org. Retrieved 2016-02-27. 
  20. ^ "What are scope 3 emissions, how can they be measured and what benefit is there to organisations measuring them?". www.carbontrust.com. Retrieved 2016-02-27. 
  21. ^ "FAQ | Greenhouse Gas Protocol". www.ghgprotocol.org. Retrieved 2016-02-27. 
  22. ^ "FAQ | Greenhouse Gas Protocol". www.ghgprotocol.org. Retrieved 2016-02-27. 
  23. ^ "Make business sense of Scope 3", The Carbon Trust, 26 April 2013. Retrieved on 20 January 2015.
  24. ^ "Scope 3 Calculation Guidance | Greenhouse Gas Protocol". www.ghgprotocol.org. Retrieved 2016-02-28. 
  25. ^ "Corporate Value Chain (Scope 3) Accounting and Reporting Standard | Greenhouse Gas Protocol". www.ghgprotocol.org. Retrieved 2016-02-28. 
  26. ^ "ISO, WRI, and WBCSD announce cooperation on greenhouse gas accounting and verification (2007-12-03) - ISO". www.iso.org. Retrieved 2016-02-29. 
  27. ^ Lohmann, L. (2009, Apr). Toward a different debate in environmental accounting: The cases of carbon and cost–benefit. Accounting, Organizations and Society 34, 499–534.
  28. ^ MacKenzie, D. (2009). Material Markets: How Economic Agents are Constructed. Oxford University Press.
  29. ^ Ubbesen, M. B. Infrastructural Accountability. Aarhus University, Aarhus University, 2015
  30. ^ I. Lippert. Enacting Environments: An Ethnography of the Digitalisation and Naturalisation of Emissions. University of Augsburg, 2013.
  31. ^ "Carbon glossary | CarbonNeutral from Natural Capital Partners". www.carbonneutral.com. Retrieved 2016-02-28. 
  32. ^ Caro, Felipe; Corbett, Charles J.; Tan, Tarkan; Zuidwijk, Rob A. (2011-10-12). "Carbon-Optimal and Carbon-Neutral Supply Chains". Rochester, NY: Social Science Research Network. SSRN 1947343Freely accessible. 
  33. ^ "Carbon Compass: Investor guide to carbon footprinting | IIGCC". www.iigcc.org. Retrieved 2016-02-28. 
  34. ^ Liesen, Andrea; Hoepner, Andreas G. F.; Patten, Dennis M.; Figge, Frank (2004-07-24). "Corporate Disclosure of Greenhouse Gas Emissions in the Context of Stakeholder Pressures: An Empirical Analysis of Reporting Activity and Completeness". Rochester, NY: Social Science Research Network. SSRN 2307876Freely accessible. 
  35. ^ I. Lippert. Carbon classified? Unpacking heterogeneous relations inscribed into corporate carbon emissions. Ephemera, 12(1/2):138–161, 2012.

Works Cited[edit]

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