As a business or organisation working on creating a greener world, you might have heard some concerning chats around the traps of carbon reporting and disclosure and how they don’t go far enough.
As an ethical business it’s hard enough to ensure you’re making a positive impact and that your measurement and reporting is transparent enough to meet standards that will only get tougher into the future.
Speaking with our Greenlister community, word on the street is that demand for reporting and disclosure consultants is only growing.
The demand is comes from the need to keep up with the changing standards. For instance businesses should now be aware of managing their Scope 3 emissions (whole supply chain), not just their electricity consumption and efficiency in-house.
It’s a complicated issue, with some experts we’ve been talking in a bit of disagreement about how to manage this tough job.
Is energy efficiency and compliance enough to tackle climate change? And how do we keep business processes up to date with fast-moving regulations and voluntary commitment programs?
Sally Cook, head of strategy at Greenlister company Energetics told us that electricity consumption reporting is “a good way to incentivise renewable energy generation and is a positive thing for the market”.
However, another Greenlister Conversio took the stronger stance that electricity consumption reporting is “flawed and triple counting the environmental benefits” – and that businesses really need to go further if they haven’t already.
However, everyone says the same thing when it comes to offsetting: carbon offset schemes should never be relied upon to reach net zero.
Offsetting “costs the integrity of the program… [and] accuracy of carbon footprint,” Conversio’s Alex Stathakis said.
Sally echoed: “we’re advising clients to expect [changing government regulations and voluntary program] volatility, and ensure they have a solid plan to decarbonise their activities and consider offsets as a last resort.”
With government regulations and voluntary schemes constantly changing, you need to stay ahead of the curve.
One of the top government reporting mechanisms, Climate Active, copped some flak from Alex who said that demand is growing from clients who want to move away from Climate Active and towards a more robust reporting scheme.
“Climate Active is good for getting started, however there are significant shortcomings with some methodologies… For our clients, Climate Active is helpful in taking you by hand in terms of what emissions you report. But once you have the process set up for activity data, it might be worthwhile looking at other mechanisms of declaring carbon neutrality.”
However, Alex says “something is better than nothing”.
Sally didn’t agree that the program has shortcomings, saying that it’s a good scheme to encourage voluntary climate action in Australian businesses.
The PAS 2060 program in Britain could be a better option for government to look towards, Alex says. The program, which has been hailed as “the ideal standard” aims to increase transparency of carbon neutrality claims by providing a common definition and recognized method of achieving carbon neutral status.
Among Conversio’s clients (which include airports, mining, small manufacturers, legal firms, architects, landscaping businesses, and other consultancies) Alex said that there was a hunger to do more when it comes to sustainability.
“People are sick and tired of getting tick-box reports, and are looking for more transparency and sophistication. It’s very refreshing to see,” he said.
Anecdotal evidence is pointing to Sydney and Melbourne being the hotspots for sustainability reporting, with a lot of drive coming from investors who see that the market requires and demands carbon neutrality, particularly for insurance purposes.
Energetics, which works with big ASX-listed organisations, the finance sector, private equity, asset managers, big banks, and government, is seeing greater pressure from investor groups on companies in general, “meaning that those who consider [sustainability reporting] as a box-ticking exercise won’t be able to do so for much longer]”.
Sally says the change in government and commitment to stronger national emissions targets has been a positive one, but “the devil will be in the details” and companies can’t rely on carbon credits to meet changing regulatory requirements – particularly in emissions intensive industries.
“Climate change has become a political issue, but I think we can reach bipartisan agreement going forward.”
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– Rose Mary Petrass, your Green List curator