Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Carbon Accounting: Protocols and Registries

As with any new uncharted landscape, the rush to establish territory and rules in the carbon business is occurring at a dizzying pace. Since I started in this business more than 5 years ago, I have learned the rules of registry after registry, from the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (the granddaddy of registries, if you will, the Kyoto Protocol), to the defunct Canadian Offset Registry, to the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, to the Western Climate Initiative. Just like learning new software packages, after a time, you start to see commonalities among them. The best registries and protocols demand the most rigorous accountability. With rigorous accounting practice, carbon credits can be traded across jurisdictions and carbon inventories can meet international regulatory standards.

That is why the Canadian government must ensure that our new Canadian Offset system is stringent in its accounting standards and rigorous in its criteria. Our credits will be more valuable if they meet international standards.

As well, that is why I favour using international standards for inventory accounting (‘carbon footprinting’), such as ISO 14064 or the World Resources Institute GHG Protocol. Taking stock of your carbon footprint or carbon inventory is a resource intensive process. It will be much more rewarding in terms of opening up new markets and meeting international regulations if you follow established, authoritative criteria. Beware the easy offsets and fly-by-night carbon footprint tools. There are a lot of pretenders out there trying to capitalize on the ‘carbon neutral’ trend. The best advice I can give you is to make sure you comparison shop before settling on a carbon inventory process, protocol, or project registry.

No comments:

Post a Comment