Solar Energy
ComplianceApril 22, 2022

The Carbon Call Initiative: A Call for Accountability

As corporations struggle to find the best way to be more environmentally responsible, they realize that they cannot do this in a bubble.

In response, several umbrella organizations have sprung up to provide an international “think tank” to speak for companies to share environmental strategies.

We are looking at three organizations, in particular, who are taking matters into their own hands:

  1. The “Better Climate Challenge,” in the U.S.
  2. Carbon Call
  3. United Nations Global Compact

In a previous article, we discussed The Better Climate Challenge. This initiative, sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy, encourages companies to commit to reducing their carbon output by 50% by 2030. To help with this, the DOE has pledged to act as a consultant for committed organizations, and build a depository of successful technology and methods for others to access.

Another initiative is Carbon Call.

Calling for Accurate Carbon Reporting

In early February, Microsoft announced it was joining ClimateWorks Foundation and 20+ leading organizations to establish Carbon Call, a group that will specifically address reliability and interoperability in carbon accounting.

Its motto is simple: “We can’t fix what we can’t measure.”

It is hard to come by an accurate record of greenhouse emissions. A Washington Post Investigative Report on this subject, published in November 2021, found that “the gap in underreported GHG emissions ranges from at least 8.5 billion to as high as 13.3 billion tons a year.”

For example, Malaysia reported to the UN that its trees were absorbing carbon four times faster than a similar forest in neighboring Indonesia. While the claim seems odd, this allowed the country to subtract more than 243 million tons of carbon dioxide from its 2016 inventory, and slash 73% of emission from its bottom line.

Malaysia is not alone. Authors of the report found that many countries underreport the GHG emissions to the UN.

One of the reasons could be that countries — as well as corporations — have different ways of measuring and reporting their emissions, which make it difficult to get accurate measurements.

This also makes it difficult to determine if the world is any nearer to truly reducing greenhouse gases (GHG), or just hiding emissions in a bunch of numbers. Hence the reason for Carbon Call.

Carbon Call Directives

Specifically, this initiative strives to clear the muddy waters of accountability and reporting by:

  1. Expanding transparent, comprehensive, and regular reporting of greenhouse gas emissions from companies.
  2. Support underlying data and science that is reliable and produce comparable, combinable, and sharable information.
  3. Enable open and efficient assessment of companies’ carbon accounting, interoperable accounting infrastructure, and support integration into national and global greenhouse gas emissions inventories.

With Carbon Call, “we now can connect the dots between what we are doing and how we are eating into our carbon base line,” says Amy Luers, Global Lead, Sustainability Science at Microsoft.

Luers says that, since the beginning of the sustainability journey at Microsoft, they’ve known that they need to work together with a wide range of organizations to achieve a net zero carbon future.

The company is now part of a group working to develop a roadmap to do just that.

In order to develop that roadmap, Carbon Call will:

  1. Assess the science and data needs, the opportunities of new and emerging technologies, and how to address the identified needs for improving the reliability of GHG accounting;
  2. Explore the ability of different GHG accounting software platforms and organizations, data providers, and GHG ledgers to exchange information, and the limitations posed by interoperability constraints;
  3. Draft an initial set of guidance for improved reliability and interoperability across these protocols, platforms, organizations, and the digital data ecosystem that supports them;
  4. Consider alternative finance and operating models for sustaining an increasingly reliable and interoperable GHG accounting system over time.

It should be noted that Carbon Call is not seeking to redefine current standards, protocols and GHG registries.

It does, however, want to accelerate efforts to develop a reliable and interoperable carbon accounting system for the planet. It plans to do this by strengthening the comparability among the existing accounting systems and transparency initiatives; and by leveraging scientific and technological advances in data streams, machine learning, and cloud computing.

That is a tall order, but with international signatories such as Microsoft, Wipro, GlaxoSmithKline, and Deloitte, as founders, it is possible.

However, they are looking for more companies to join.

Not Mutually Exclusive

It should be noted that the Better Climate Challenge and Carbon Call are not mutually exclusive.

Carbon Call hopes to set up an official carbon reporting and accounting system. While the Better Climate Challenge is all about working with organizations to reduce emissions and develop an accessible database of useable methods.

How to Join

If a company is interested in committing to Carbon Call, it must confirm in writing how it plans to fulfill these commitments:

  • Comprehensively report GHG emissions across all Scopes of Emissions (Scope 1, 2, 3) and all classes of GHGs in line with available methodologies and best practices.
  • Annually report to ensure progress is measured.
  • Transparently make GHG emissions information available to the public to track progress.
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