Carbon footprint management is a diverse and interesting practice. Here are some useful tips to ensure the work you do is in line with current standards and methodologies:
- Carbon footprinting is still a relatively new practice, which is evolving at a rapid rate. With new methodologies and efficiencies to adhere to, remember to check for updates regularly to ensure that you keep up with best practice, both locally and internationally. The types of updates to look out for include the following:
- Emission Factor updates: Defra (UK) for example update their emission factors annually, as does Eskom (electricity provider in South Africa).
- Methodology updates: look out for revised editions of international methodologies such as the GHG Protocol.
- New industry-specific methodologies: this involves more in-depth research, as these methodologies are usually developed by industry-specific bodies as opposed to general carbon-footprinting bodies.
- Legislation updates: this includes international legislation in the form of an international agreement such as Kyoto, as well as local carbon regulation such as the proposed South African carbon tax expected in 2015.
- Technology: new devices, fuels, and/or methods are constantly being developed.
- Don’t forget to expand your GHG inventory. You can always start with Scope 1 and 2, and then once you have a handle on those emission sources, start adding the most important Scope 3 sources. Be careful not to become complacent and forget to expand the Scope 3 inventory as your carbon management programme matures.
- Don’t forget the spin off benefits of carbon footprinting. A carbon footprint can be seen as a snapshot of your environmental impacts, and can be used to spot inefficiencies and reduce operating costs. It is often these other associated benefits that convince the powers-that-be to embark on a carbon management programme.
- Understand the difference between the consolidation approaches. Presumably, when the carbon tax is implemented, either the equity share approach or the control approach will be mandated. Make sure you have evaluated your carbon tax risk according to both consolidation approaches.
- Understand what your boundaries are and how to set them. It is imperative to have the correct definitive boundaries in place before attempting to quantify emissions in any meaningful way.
- To learn more about setting carbon emissions boundaries, read this article.
There is a wealth of information on the subject that is freely available to the public; however, it can be difficult and time-consuming to wade through all of it and get a handle on the ins and outs of carbon foot printing. Also, the methodologies available tend to be general guidelines which do not cover all eventualities, and can be particularly difficult when dealing with a complex organisation.
It is advisable to attend a course such as the GCX Africa Carbon Footprint Analyst (CFA) course. Through it you will gain an understanding of carbon footprint calculations through practical exercises and case studies, as well as an understanding of the science behind climate change and the carbon markets.