Protocols address carbon reporting needs
World Resources Institute and World Business Council for Sustainable Development in January announced the release of two new carbon accounting protocols for business. The release of the protocols couldn’t have come at a better time for the business community, which is receiving increasing pressure to report their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). The commission in January voted to require public companies to report potential risks they face due to climate change on their quarterly filings.
The recently released protocols are designed to help companies catalog cradle-to-grave information about specific products and track so-called “scope 3,” or indirect, GHG emissions. Sixty corporations from 17 countries are taking part in the pilot tests, according to Cynthia Cummis, project manager for Washington, D.C.-based World Resources Institute.
More than 73 percent of Global 100 companies are working to meet some form of GHG emissions reduction target, according to a 2009 survey of Global 100 companies by Carbon Chasm. Yet many Fortune 500 companies are reporting scant GHG emissions information to investors, according to a June 2009 study by Ceres, Environmental Defense Fund and The Corporate Library.
San Rafael, Calif.-based Autodesk (NASDAQ: ADSK) was chosen among 120 companies—many of which were Fortune 500 companies—that wanted to participate in the protocol testing.
Most of Autodesk’s emissions are due to employee travel, leased office and data center space, and other sources out of its direct control, according to Aniruddha Deodhar, project manager for the company’s sustainability initiative. The company is working on an open-source methodology for setting corporate emissions targets known as a Corporate Finance Approach to Climate-Stabilizing Targets (C-FACT).
Autodesk's C-FACT would help companies reduce their GHGs in line with scientific and policy climate stabilization targets proportionally to their relative contribution to global gross domestic product using an equation that divides a company's carbon footprint by gross profit to identify its impact on global warming. Emissions reduction targets are set according to annual revenue.Not all companies are ready to track and report their GHG emissions, though. There was corporate pushback against the SEC decision. “Industries with very high carbon emissions in day-to-day practices have more to fear,” says Ross Macfarlane, senior advisor at Seattle-based Climate Solutions.