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A global standard for interoperable product accounting for greenhouse gas emissions


A global standard for interoperable product accounting for greenhouse gas emissions
Variability in product-level greenhouse gas (GHG) accounting standards and methodologies, according to a new World Wildlife Fund analysis, can prevent companies from understanding both their true emissions and their progress in reducing them (WWF). While rigorous organization-level GHG accounting has enabled companies to identify and address emissions hotspots, greater product-level accounting harmonisation could accelerate progress and enable cross-organizational comparison.

This is especially important in agriculture, where farm emissions are significant but often poorly understood. Companies typically compile a jumbled collection of data from various suppliers, each of which may have its own formula for calculating GHG footprints. According to WWF's analysis, these disparities render monitoring efforts ineffective, both within a company's own scope and when comparing across industries.

“Companies’ efforts to cut emissions are critical to the global effort to mitigate climate change. In our current situation, this mishmash of methodologies makes demonstrating progress nearly impossible,” said Katherine Devine, director of business case development at WWF’s Markets Institute and co-author of the analysis.

“Even for companies making good faith efforts, there’s a strong incentive to cherry pick whatever data and methodologies make you look best.”

“The range of emissions embedded in the same product varies astronomically, sometimes over 100-fold. Simply estimating greenhouse gas emissions by commodity doesn’t cut it. There’s no question that standardizing a system to collect reliable emissions will be a difficult, complex process. But as we get serious about tackling climate change, greenhouse gas accounting that enables good decision making must rise to the top of the priority list,” said
Emily Moberg , WWF’s director of scope 3 carbon measurement and mitigation.

The analysis outlines four potential paths forward to facilitate comparison across suppliers and investments, set meaningful targets, and effectively share knowledge:
  • Globally standardized or interoperable product accounting methodologies and reporting requirements
  • Quality control for collected data
  • Pre-competitive collaboration
  • Transparency in reporting
If you like to see the analysis click here.

If you want to see it with additional commentary click here.