Following today’s launch of the World Resources Institute’s (WRI) new GHG accounting guidance, IEMA has “broadly welcomed” the publication, but warns of some potential challenges for Environment & Sustainability professionals with GHG responsibilities.

IEMA contributed to the working group development of the WRI’s GHG Protocol Scope 2 guidance throughout the four-year international collaboration, commenting on draft proposals and testing these with IEMA Members.

In developing this guidance, the WRI has looked to improve and harmonize guidance for how companies account for greenhouse gas emissions from purchased electricity, steam, heat and cooling (known as Scope 2 emissions). A particular focus has been grid electricity that has been generated from renewable, where different countries adopt differing approaches. For example UK guidance has advocated using ‘grid averaged’ emissions in contrast to the use in the US of contractual emissions factors (which in some cases leads to zero emission accounting).

IEMA Members are broadly supportive of a dual accounting approach, which could provide more complete information for decision making and greater transparency.

IEMA’s Policy & Practice Lead on this issue and working group Member, Nick Blyth said today: “Given the complexity of this area I am pleased to see that the published WRI guidance has sought to address key principles such as transparency through its dual reporting approach. The guidance should ultimately help decision-makers and wider stakeholders to understand the full picture with respect to GHG emissions, and most importantly the scope for reducing overall energy consumption and for improvements through contracts and tariffs.”

The final guidance should help organisations to produce more transparent and useful GHG reports, although the area is complex. IEMA has warned that some concerns remain around how the guidance might be used, for example across different geographies (in the UK there are differing approaches between current schemes such as the CRC and mandatory GHG reporting). Without the correct skills to implement the guidance, there is a potential risk of organisations placing undue emphasis on one method only or on the potential misuse of reported footprints (for example in connection with decision-making or on associated communications or low carbon claims).

Nick Blyth said: “Environment and Sustainability professionals will have a critical role to play in advising organisations on these issues and in implementing the new guidance to ensure fair, credible and transparent GHG data and accounting.”