This Working Paper summarizes the common challenges identified by greenhouse gas accounting and reporting programs at the March 2010 International Workshop of GHG Protocol-based Programs. It then goes on to present recommendations generated by workshop participants on how to best address these shared needs.

Executive Summary

Corporate GHG inventory programs have played a significant role in encouraging and enabling businesses and other organizations to respond to climate change. By developing and disseminating standards and tools to formulate inventories that are consistent with international best practices, these programs have laid a foundation of technical and institutional capacity to measure and manage GHG emissions. In so doing, they have also promoted transparency and access to information by making GHG data publicly available in GHG registries and mobilized coalitions of private sector actors to engage constructively on the climate issue.

This progress notwithstanding, new developments are driving the need for GHG accounting programs to evolve more efficiently, more effectively, and at a greater scale. On the business side, there is a trend toward managing GHG emissions along the value chain. Companies are looking up and down the supply chain and throughout the product life-cycle for GHG management opportunities. Identifying these opportunities requires exponentially more extensive GHG data than is now readily available. Further, climate policy is becoming a reality not only in industrialized countries, but also in growing numbers of developing countries around the world. Most major emerging economies have adopted voluntary national GHG mitigation targets and are exploring portfolios of policies and measures to achieve them. International negotiations have emphasized the need for mitigation to be measurable, reportable, and verifiable, which has called new attention to the importance of GHG accounting. These trends point to the need for greatly enhanced GHG accounting capacity and tools at a global scale. Existing GHG inventory programs have a tremendous potential to inform a global strategy for building this capacity.

In March 2010, the World Resources Institute (WRI) convened a two-day meeting of approximately 50 experts from more than ten GHG inventory programs around the world to share lessons learned and discuss opportunities for collaboration. The event was organized around six major themes: accounting and quantification, reporting and public disclosure, quality assurance, training and capacity building, going beyond the inventory, and the relationship between voluntary programs and climate change policy. Participants generated several recommendations for advancing work in these areas (see Appendix 1).

While the discussion and suggestions covered a wide range of topics, taken together, they point to a need to develop future work in three areas: (1) dramatically increasing the scale of corporate GHG accounting capacity in terms of geography, sector, and scope; (2) moving companies and governments along the path from GHG measurement to GHG management; and (3) enhancing the coordination between programs on a range of issues as GHG accounting practice becomes more widespread and complex.