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Carbon comment
07 November 2012
​Photography: theilr (CC License)
​Corruption and greenhouse gas emissions are two of the most talked-about sustainability issues of all: and you can still have your say on how companies and organizations report on them, by taking part in the Additional Public Comment Period for G4 Thematic Revisions, open until 12 November.
​GRI’s reporting guidance for both issues is being updated for the next generation of its Sustainability Reporting Guidelines, G4.  The decision to update the coverage of anti-corruption measures and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions was driven by public input. Both were highlighted in a public Call for New Sustainability Reporting Topics held in 2011.

Having requested the updates, it’s time for the public to help with the updating – and so play a part in how companies and organizations disclose information on issues that affect all of us, like carbon emissions and energy use.

Public expectations and regulatory requirements have played a big role in the evolution of emissions reporting. Earlier this year, a poll conducted by The Guardian newspaper (UK) suggested that a consistent majority of Britons now believe that global warming is real and man-made. The UK government has responded; from April 2013, all listed companies on the London Stock Exchange will have to report their full GHG emissions. The introduction of Australia’s new carbon tax has also made global headlines, prompting strong reactions from many companies and dividing public and political opinion. 

Given the changing landscape and passionate views involved, GRI’s role is a practical and bridge-building one: to provide reporting guidance that helps organizations calculate and communicate their emissions in the most effective way.

One way to achieve this is multi-stakeholder input: Members of the volunteer Working Group tasked with the G4 revisions represent business, civil society, financial markets, labor and mediating institutions.

Another important element of this neutral, facilitating approach is to try to align organizations’ reporting requirements. The last decade has seen significant advances in reporting approaches and metrics, including the work of bodies like the Climate Disclosure Standards Board and Carbon Disclosure Project.  But variations in methodologies, scope, and boundaries for reported emissions can limit comparability, and increase organizations’ costs.

The proposed G4 revisions intend to support and align with the GHG Protocol, jointly released by the World Resources Institute and the World Business Council for Sustainable Development, and the ISO 14064 standard. Instead of reinventing the wheel, GRI’s disclosure items have been made more consistent with other frameworks, and aim to aid comparability by allowing more detailed reporting.

Having been among the pioneers of reporting in this field, GRI wants to continue to offer organizations reporting guidance that is both meaningful and manageable – for their own benefit and for the benefit of all those who are affected by what they do. The reporting of GHG emissions has come a long way since GRI’s first Indicators were published: Now is your chance to influence what it becomes in future.