Aug 27, 2010

Outcomes of the GHG Protocol workshops

WRI hosted a workshop for companies’ road testing the drafts of the product and scope 3 standards for GHG accounting and reporting. These standards will be finalized by the end of 2010 and publicly available by the beginning of 2011. Read the summary of the workshops here.

Summary of the workshop on the Scope 3 standard
The scope 3 standard will be an extension to the current GHG Protocol – Corporate Standard (revised edition 2004) and will cover all indirect emissions from a company including their supply chains and downstream emissions. About 60 companies representing a diverse range of industries have volunteered to ‘road test’ the draft. As expected there were a variety of preferences and individual agendas howeverconsensus was able to be achieved on many issues:

The most divergent views surfaced on questions about the essential strategy behind the standard, i.e. whether it should be a standard that is primarily about good and complete emissions accounting practice along a corporation’s value chain, or a standard focused on supplier engagement and driving change through this. It was suggested that the standard may be both, and that companies should declare which strategy they are pursuing for carbon accounting and reporting.

Another interesting topic was the setting of boundaries i.e., how much of the scope 3 emissions should the standard require to be reported. The current draft suggests an 80% threshold. Many companies said that in order to do this they will have to determine how much 100% is anyway, and that in this case they may as well report 100% provided it is acceptable to have a higher variance/uncertainty attached to the remaining 20%. 

One positive development was in relation to data types and quality: The current draft requires separate reporting of emissions from primary and secondary data where primary data includes supplier supplied data and secondary data includes sources such as literature, LCA data bases and I/O data bases.  The next version of the standard however, may not require separate reporting of primary and secondary data. Instead, it may just require “reporting the emission totals for each category (16), together with an indication as to what percentage of emissions is based on ‘physical relationships”. This – in our view - increases the accuracy of reporting plus it increases the likelihood of scope 3 reporters using LCA data for their emissions calculations.

Summary of the workshop on the product standard
In contrast to the companies involved in the Scope 3 workshop, there was a broad consensus among road testers on the application, interpretation and optimizations required in the current draft of the product standard:

All road testers confirmed that attributional Life Cycle Assessment was the adequate approach for the accounting of product GHG emissions. It was therefore recommended the section on consequentional LCA be erased in the current draft of the standard.

All road testers confirmed that capital goods were insignificant within the life cycle of the products under investigation. As a result of this, deletion of capital goods from the analysis is being considered. Alternatively, the investigation of capital goods may be limited to facilities owned or controlled by the company performing the carbon footprint analysis. In summary, it was concluded that there is no absolute need for inclusion of capital goods in all upstream and downstream processes.

Most road testing companies did not agree that primary data should have priority, as outlined in the current draft of the standard.. The quality of the Data is the key to identifying preferred data sources. In the current draft of the standard, data quality is only referred to in the reporting phase. It was recommended to change this to using data quality as a criterion to identify the most representative/appropriate data to be used in the analysis.

As many road testers had already undertaken numerous, recent LCA studies, it was concluded that a specific chapter on how to convert an ISO 14044 LCA into the GHG Protocol Product standard, should be included in the standard.

It was emphasized that the standard will provide the building blocks for standardization. However some areas may be not finally standardized, e.g. allocation. Fine tuning of the specifications and choices could occur within the framework of a program or industry specific standards based on the GHG Protocol Initiative. It is likely that the standard will contain a section on how to set up/ write PCRs based on the GHG Protocol standard.

Many road testers expressed their desire for more guidance for tracking biogenic carbon storage (the need for a case study was mentioned). There was disagreement on the PAS 2050 approach to carbon storage credits, however no alternative was available at present.

If you are interested in the ongoing developments of the GHG Protocol initiatives and/or other ongoing standardization such as ISO 14067, PAS 2050, French Grenelle, etc. PE INTERNATIONAL can provide customized workshops and seminars.


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