Ryan Schuchard, Manager, Climate and Energy, BSR

The Greenhouse Gas Protocol’s (GHG Protocol) Corporate Standard may soon undergo its first change in more than 10 years, and companies have a chance to shape its direction by providing comments on a user assessment of the tool.

Recognized as the global gold standard for business accounting and reporting of greenhouse gas emissions, the GHG Protocol’s Corporate Standard was first published in 2001. Virtually all of the world’s largest companies use it as a core tool for managing climate action.

Since the last revision of the Corporate Standard in 2004, the landscape has changed considerably. Voluntary reporting programs have become commonplace, regulatory programs increasingly request corporate data, and companies have become more sophisticated in how they report emissions. At this important juncture, large companies in all industries have a unique opportunity to take stock of how the Corporate Standard, and also the GHG Protocol’s Scope 3 and Product Standards, are used and whether changes or new standards are needed.

Changes to these standards could have a significant impact on business. They define where and how emissions—which are increasingly associated with real financial costs and risks—are measured and accounted for. Additionally, most companies sink time into developing inventories using GHG Protocol tools and creating emissions-reduction strategies informed by those inventories. Improvements to the process could save both time and resources.

What might future changes involve? I asked Stephen Russell, who is managing the consultation process at World Resources Institute, which created the GHG Protocol with the World Business Council for Sustainable Development.

Russell said it’s too early to say for sure, but topics under consideration include new guidance for quantifying upstream greenhouse gas impacts of transportation fuels, accounting for biomass carbon dioxide emissions, and evaluating vehicle fleet performance. They are also deliberating on whether to include environmental impacts other than greenhouse gas emissions, such as water pollution and ecosystem degradation.

This process is happening alongside a series of related initiatives. The GHG Protocol is creating Financial Sector Guidance that supplements the Scope 3 Standard, which allows companies to assess the emissions impact of their entire value chain and identify the most effective ways to reduce emissions. The organization is also exploring the development of  a standard for avoided emissions to help companies that sell products that improve climate impacts (e.g. by increasing efficiency) measure their results.

What if companies are satisfied with the GHG Protocol as-is? Russell told me, “If companies are already happy, then it is important that they let us know. Otherwise, we will just be listening to companies that are not satisfied and want something different.”

Companies that want to provide comments on the GHG Protocol’s Corporate Standard can take the survey here. The deadline is February 28.