We all know that the call for action on climate change is getting louder and the need for change more serious. It is something we know we can no longer ignore – both from a responsible citizen perspective and as a matter of survival as a business (and as a species, but more on that another day).
As business owners, CEOs and leaders, the course of action can be unclear, even more so now in light of the recent conversation about some offsets. For many, navigating the path forward can feel like we are clambering around in the dark, hoping to get it right. Yes, we can get nice stamps and show a certificate that says we have invested in some offsets. But have we made a real difference? Or are we just paying for another bit of marketing?
Most businesses want to do the right thing. They want their actions to make a difference, but it can be hard to know what to do. Anyone can claim to be an expert in carbon credits and emissions reduction, but not everyone is getting it right.
New Zealand businesses can’t afford to operate in a haphazard way in this space. If we want to meet the expectations of our global customers and continue to export goods, we need to be able to prove that we are meeting the highest international standards, which require that any greenhouse gas statement, inventory or footprint claim has a specified level of accuracy, is reported transparently and is appropriately third party verified.
The best thing a business embarking on an emissions reductions journey can do is to find a consultant that works to the appropriate standards.
For greenhouse gas emissions reporting, offset origination and validation or verification, the appropriate standard is the international standard ISO 14064. Ensuring that the program you sign up to or the offsets you buy are adhering to this standard should be the first question.
- These standards are international best practice for greenhouse gas accounting at an entity/organisation level.
- These standards are based on the TACCC principles – Transparency, Accuracy, Consistency, Completeness and Comparability. This aligns with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reporting guidelines and United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). Meeting these five TACCC principles is key to completing a robust assessment of emissions and removals.
- For an entity to report its greenhouse gas emissions statement with any level of assurance and credibility it must be be verified to the desired level of assurance (limited or reasonable) to the standard it was developed against.
- Any greenhouse gas statement, inventory or footprint claims made by entities must be based on these standards, be reported transparently and be appropriately third party verified.
- It allows for repeatability of reporting year on year so entities can demonstrate reductions in emissions over time.
Such absolute reductions should be celebrated.
What’s more, for carbon credit generation, verification and certification programs that meet the Integrity Council for the Voluntary Carbon Market (ICVCM) assessment framework should be considered.
This framework helps ensure that carbon credits issued are resulting in additional reduction or removal of greenhouse gas emissions from the atmosphere. These standards require carbon crediting programs and projects to assess the integrity of greenhouse gas emissions reductions or removals activities against core carbon principles. If these principles are met they should result in a real and quantifiable reduction or removal that would not have occurred otherwise, and causes no net harm to the climate, community or biodiversity in the process. These activities must be third party verified and transparently reported to maintain rigor.
The Core Carbon Principles outlined by the ICVCM and other creditable carbon crediting programs are:
- Sustainable development impacts and safeguards
- Robust Quantification
- No double counting
- Program Governance and Registry
- Third party validation and verification
- Transition towards net-zero emissions
These principles must be assessed by a carbon crediting project or program to ensure high integrity carbon credits are generated which can then be used in voluntary market offsetting claims.
In summary, there is really no other way to work to have the best chance of your actions making a contribution to mitigating climate change.
EAS works to these international standards in order to to demonstrate that the robust quantification of greenhouse gas emission statements, inventories and footprints of our clients are aligned with international best practice. As conscientious New Zealand businesses, if we want to play on the international stage and trade with the big players, we need to get on board with robust, quantifiable and verifiable results.
We can help you achieve this. Contact us to find out how.