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Expert Advice

GHG Protocol Update and the Push for Granular Data

Published February 9, 2024
Sr. Carbon Sustainability Analyst
By Isabelle Wilhelm-Muñiz Sr. Carbon Sustainability Analyst
GHG Protocol Update and the Push for Granular Data

The Greenhouse Gas Protocol (GHGP) plays a pivotal role in establishing global standardized frameworks for measuring and managing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. A collaborative initiative between the World Resources Institute (WRI) and the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD), the GHGP offers comprehensive guidelines on GHG emissions for both private and public sector operations, value chains, and mitigation actions.

Since the publication of the GHG Protocol’s Corporate Accounting and Reporting Standard (2004), Corporate Value Chain (Scope 3) Standard (2011), Scope 3 Calculation Guidance (2013), and Scope 2 Guidance (2015), noteworthy advancements have occurred in greenhouse gas accounting and reporting. These include initiatives such as the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi), the growing trend towards net-zero targets, advancements in GHG research and technologies, and the adoption of mandatory climate disclosure regulations.

In response to changes, the GHG Protocol initiated a feedback process from November 2022 to March 2023. During this period, the public was invited to provide input on existing corporate standards and guidance. Stakeholders were encouraged to propose the continuation of current practices or suggest updates and additional guidance.

The primary goal of these updates was to align with best practices, ensuring that GHG Protocol standards for scope 1, scope 2, and scope 3 effectively establish a comprehensive and credible accounting foundation for businesses in order to help ensure organizations are able to measure, plan, and track progress towards science-based and net-zero targets, aligning with the global 1.5°C goal.

NZero has actively participated in this feedback process, with a specific focus on the Scope 2 Guidance. Scope 2 emissions are indirect GHG emissions, resulting from the purchase of electricity, steam, and heat. As the protocol currently recommends accounting for these emissions annually—multiplying annual usage by an annual emission factor for a large regional grid to estimate associated emissions—NZero differentiates itself by providing enhanced granularity and analysis. Leveraging an advanced emission modeling system, NZero offers companies real-time, 24/7 insights into their Scope 2 emissions based on hourly usage and hourly, balancing authority level emission factors. Throughout the GHGP feedback process, NZero has contributed research, customer case studies and advocated for this granularity to become the standard practice, as we believe it is essential for decarbonization planning.

GHG Protocol Update

The recently concluded Scope 2 Survey and Proposal Summaries (November 2023) mark the conclusion of the initial feedback phase, which received over 400 survey submissions, 70 proposal submissions, and conversations with over 1000 stakeholders. Notably, there was a strong interest in hourly, granular carbon accounting for both location-based and market-based approaches, emphasizing accuracy, specificity, and accessibility. We at NZero are thrilled to see this theme emerge as a main topic across respondents and proposals for the upcoming updates.

Looking ahead, the GHG Protocol secretariat is committed to a consensus-based outcome aligned with their decision criteria. The formal stakeholder consultation process will involve reviewing the technical basis for proposed initiatives, assessing their application, and integrating them into a GHG emissions report. Formal work plans will be collaboratively developed with the Technical Working Group and Independent Standards Board. NZero is eager to be part of these groups and continue supporting the update process.

Anticipated milestones include the release of drafts of revised text in 2024 and final standards and guidance in 2025. Meanwhile, at NZero, we remain dedicated to delivering granular insights to our customers, empowering them to make informed, data-driven decisions crucial for decarbonization and effective GHG emissions management. As we strive to set this level of granularity as the standard, we look forward to contributing to the GHG Protocol's efforts in advancing greenhouse gas accounting practices.

For sustainability leaders, by sustainability leaders.