Measuring greenhouse gases is critical for companies and governments looking to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. The Greenhouse Gas Protocol (GHGP), created by WRI and The World Business Council on Sustainable Development, is becoming the global standard for measuring GHG emissions. The Swiss-based International Organization for standardization (ISO), the world’s leading developer of standards for corporate accountability, recently adopted the GHG Protocol. Various ISO standards are being used by more than half a million organizations in 159 countries. Standardization will promote a convergence of greenhouse accounting practices globally, and in this way will reduce costs, improve comparability, and strengthen the capacity of corporate leaders to make informed decisions on greenhouse gas risks and opportunities.
WRI assisted Whole Foods Market in completing the largest purchase of green power in U.S. history, 4598 kilowatt-hours per year from wind farms—enough to power 40,000 homes. Corporate leadership is essential to the growth of green power and Whole Foods’ purchase has set a new benchmark. Whole Foods worked with WRI because of the success of our Green Power Market Development Group, a partnership of Fortune 500 companies building corporate markets for renewable energy. Group members are now the nation’s largest corporate users of renewable energy. Starbuck’s, J&J, and IBM support wind power. DuPont and GM are the country’s largest corporate users of landfill biogas for thermal energy, while J&J, Staples, and GM are among the nation’s top business users of solar power.
Which companies are going to thrive in a carbon-constrained future? It’s a critical question that the capital markets are currently ill-equipped to answer. Citigroup Investment Research, in partnership with WRI’s Capital Markets Research Team, looked at the risks and opportunities that climate change is creating for business. The findings were distributed to Citigroup’s real client base, including the largest investment and mutual funds in the world. When Citigroup, the world’s largest financial services company, says there are opportunities to make money solving climate change problems, investors will listen and other financial institutions will be inspired to follow. This is an example of the power of market-based strategies to steer business investment and innovation toward solutions to environmental and development challenges.
Our work with Time Inc., the world’s largest magazine publisher, is a terrific example of the successes enabled by our partnership-based approaches. While many companies set their own internal greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction targets, Time Inc. announced a GHG reduction target goal for its paper suppliers. This groundbreaking move sets a new standard for a company having impact along its supply chain. Time Inc. worked with WRI to implement this initiative. They also were part of WRI’s Climate Northeast Partnership, working to build strategies that will allow companies to thrive in a carbon-constrained economy. When an iconic company like Time Inc. takes confronting global climate change seriously, other industry leaders take heed.
A number of programs that require businesses to report their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions have emerged in the past decade at the regional, national, and sub-national levels. Most of these programs operate in developed countries, but some developing countries are also showing an interest in adopting mandatory emissions disclosure programs.
Establishing these programs is a resource- and time-intensive exercise. It can be a daunting task for developing countries with competing priorities and limited resources. So where can these countries begin as they consider setting up their greenhouse gas reporting schemes?
WRI’s new working paper, Designing Greenhouse Gas Reporting Systems: Learning from Existing Programs, reviews corporate and facility-level greenhouse gas reporting programs in Australia, California, Canada, the European Union, France, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the United States. The paper identifies steps to implement a mandatory reporting program and discusses factors to be considered at each step in designing the program.
It also discusses some strategies for developing countries keen to set up reporting programs. Developing countries may find it easier to adopt a gradual, phased approach to develop a reporting program. Engaging in the following three key steps allows developing nations to make the most of their more limited resources:
WRI’s New Ventures project identifies, mentors, and provides small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) with access to investment. New Ventures operates in five of the world’s most vibrant emerging economies – Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, and Mexico – where current business and development trends will impact the entire world. In 2007, New Ventures Mexico launched an independent institution – Centro de Negocios Sustentables. With a $400,000 grant from Mexico’s Ministry of Economics, the Center, the first of its kind in Mexico, provides sustainable SMEs with a wide range of services from business acceleration and incubation to market access through the Green Pages. Since its founding, New Ventures has provided comprehensive support to over 150 entrepreneurs and facilitated $38 million in investments for sustainable companies.
Four years ago, few financial firms factored climate change impacts into their operations. Now, due in large part to WRI’s work to examine the risks and opportunities that climate change is creating for business, industry leaders such as ABN AMRO, Bank of America, Citi, Goldman Sachs, HSBC, JPMorgan Chase, and Lehman Brothers are committing significant resources and billions of dollars toward cleaner technologies and climate change solutions. What started as “boutique research” is now a mainstream issue. WRI believes that financial markets attuned to environmental issues will create powerful incentives for companies to improve their environmental performance, while also ensuring better returns for investors.