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Mar 02, 2023

WWF makes urgent call for consistent GHG standards

New analysis outlines need for ‘standardized or interoperable’ Scope 3 methodologies

The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) has called for clearer and more common reporting standards that will allow companies to better monitor their greenhouse gas emissions (GHG).

The WWF recognizes companies’ efforts toward GHG reporting and the progress businesses have made in identifying and addressing emission hotspots. It argues, however, that a lack of standardization is preventing those companies from truly understanding their emissions and slowing their efforts to reduce them.

A new analysis released by the organization this month states that a ‘mishmash of methodologies’ makes the process of tracking progress on GHG emissions ‘nearly impossible’.

The issue particularly affects companies operating in the agriculture sector where farm emissions are substantial, but poorly understood. The analysis explains that GHG footprints are often calculated by aggregating a series of data from different suppliers. But each one of those may have its own way of calculating GHG emissions. This makes monitoring efforts ‘irrelevant’ both at a company and wider industry level, the WWF says.

The WWF suggests potential ways forward for regulators that will facilitate comparisons across suppliers and investments and help businesses set meaningful targets.

Those steps include:

  • Implementing globally standardized or interoperable methodologies and reporting requirements for product accounting
  • Introducing a quality-control process for collected data
  • Pre-competitive collaboration
  • Greater transparency in reporting.

Katherine Devine, director of business case development at the WWF’s Markets Institute, says that at the moment even those companies that have shown goodwill in reporting GHG emissions still get to cherry-pick whatever data and methodologies make them look best.

‘Companies’ efforts to cut emissions are critical to the global effort to mitigate climate change,’ she notes. ‘In our current situation, this mishmash of methodologies makes demonstrating progress nearly impossible.’

Emily Moberg, the WWF’s director of Scope 3 carbon measurement and mitigation, says companies are estimating their GHG footprints and this is not enough to reduce carbon emissions in the long term.

‘Simply estimating greenhouse gas emissions by commodity doesn’t cut it,’ she argues. ‘There’s no question that standardizing a system to collect reliable emissions will be a difficult, complex process. But as we get serious about tackling climate change, GHG accounting that enables good decision-making must rise to the top of the priority list.’