GHG Protocol survey on the need for an avoided emissions standard

Submitted by: Kathryn Kasavel, Tuesday, November 19, 2013

The Greenhouse Gas Protocol (GHG Protocol), in collaboration with the World Resources Institute and World Business Council for Sustainable Development, is currently undertaking a global survey to establish the need for standardising the calculation of ‘avoided emissions’ of goods and services of companies.  Laura Draucker from The World Resources Institute explains that “avoided emissions are emission reductions that occur outside of a product’s life cycle or value chain, but as a result of the use of that product.” An example of a product where emissions are avoided is when a chemical additive included in tyres helps to improve fuel efficiency, “these emissions are ‘avoided’ because of the chemical additive,” explains Draucker. Draucker states that other examples of products that avoid emissions are low-temperature detergents, energy-efficient ball-bearings, and teleconferencing services and that other terms used to describe avoided emissions include ‘climate positive’, ‘net-positive accounting’ and ‘scope 4’.

Draucker explains that the mission of the GHG Protocol is to develop internationally accepted GHG accounting and reporting standards and tools, and therefore stakeholders are surveyed before developing any standard. She says that there is an “increasing trend of companies quantifying and reporting avoided emissions, without a standard to provide credibility and consistency to those claims”, which in turn “prompted us to launch the survey and determine if there was a need and demand for GHG Protocol to start a standard development process.”

If the survey results demonstrate that there is a need for a standard for the calculation of avoided emissions to be developed, Draucker states that the GHG Protocol will “develop a standard that is highly regarded and adopted internationally” and “any company that quantifies or reports avoided emissions will use this standard, and their stakeholders will feel confident that the results they report are consistent and credible.” Once companies are able to report on their avoided emissions, their “customers and consumers will help them make the correct purchasing decisions to drive the market for products that avoid emissions, which will help reduce global GHG emissions” explains Draucker. She says that this could lead to businesses growing and flourishing in a low carbon economy.

Draucker encourages stakeholder participation into the process and adds “completing the survey is an opportunity for any stakeholder to provide key input – whether they feel the time is right for a standard or not.” Draucker elaborates that “without participation and buy-in, the standard will not be adopted and utilized to combat climate change. Visit the GHG Protocol webpage for more information and to partake in the online survey before the 11th of December 2013.

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Kathryn Kasavel