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Rest assured

1 March, 2024

The world of corporate GHG emissions accounting and target setting has come on leaps and bounds in the last few years. And with more data out there, we can start to get a better understanding of progress on emissions reductions and the key drivers for the transition to net zero.

A new piece of research this week added an interesting insight into the mix: that companies that had their emissions data assured showed greater emissions reductions than those that didn’t, as well as reporting higher absolute emissions. In fact, having emissions assured had nearly as much impact on emissions reductions as having science-based targets.

There are plenty of factors that influence emissions reductions, so it’s difficult to say exactly how or why reductions are influenced. And it’s important to note that the research only looks at companies’ direct (scope 1) emissions, which typically only represent a small proportion of emissions – when you include electricity (scope 2) emissions, setting targets has a bigger impact on emissions performance, for example.

But the most interesting part is the impact of having emissions data assured. The study found that companies who had emissions data assured reported 8% higher emissions intensity than their unassured peers, suggesting that there’s likely underreporting elsewhere, and prompting the authors to call for mandatory emissions assurance.

With emissions being intangible and complex, their measurement isn’t straightforward, and the practice is in its relative infancy. With the guidance being limited, there is a need for second opinions, collaboration and knowledge sharing, which assurance plays an important role in. We’re proud to be a part of the Carbon Accounting Alliance to help accelerate the development of emissions accounting.

By Patrick Bapty

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