Oil and gas transparency standard for the low-carbon transition

Published date: 05 October 2021

GRI Standard to unlock reporting on sector’s sustainability challenges

A new sustainability reporting standard for oil and gas has launched today, which will enable complete disclosure on the complexity of transparency demands facing the sector – best positioning companies to demonstrate accountability for their impacts and how they are transitioning to a low-carbon future.

The GRI Sector Standard for Oil and Gas focuses on the sectors most pressing challenges on sustainable development. At the heart of this is how the decisions and actions of companies address widespread stakeholder concerns about their climate change related impacts, while ensuring a just transition for workers, communities and the environment.

GRI’s first Sector Standard applies to any organization involved in oil and gas exploration, development, extraction, storage, transportation or refinement. Key features include that it:

  • Guides reporting across 22 most likely material topics, including climate adaptation, resilience and transition, site closure and rehabilitation, biodiversity, the rights of indigenous peoples, anti-corruption, water and waste.
  • Ensures comprehensive disclosure on greenhouse gas emissions – both direct (Scope 1 and 2) and indirect emissions caused by the end-use of their products (Scope 3).
  • Reflects authoritative expectations for responsible business, including the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) and Task Force on Climate-Related Financial Disclosures (TCFD).
  • Has multi-stakeholder and global legitimacy, with development led by an expert group representative of business, investors, civil society, mediating and labor institutions.

This year has seen a series of reports that all point towards demands for transparency from the oil and gas sector. The International Energy Agency Net Zero by 2050 study cites a fast transition from fossil fuels in the global energy mix as essential. The World Benchmarking Alliance Oil & Gas Benchmark raises concerns over a ‘lack of comprehensive and comparable climate reporting’ in this sector, particularly for Scope 3 GHG emissions. The Assessment Report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, meanwhile, calls for ‘strong and sustained reductions’ in GHG emissions to limit climate change.

The urgent need to quicken the transition to a low-carbon economy, and mitigate the effects of climate change, is clear for all to see. By committing to transparency through the GRI Sector Standard, oil and gas organizations can demonstrate that they want to be a part of the solution, highlighting the business case for change. Providing a comprehensive reporting standard for any oil and gas companies to fully disclose their impacts on the economy, the environment and people, the Sector Standard gets to the heart of the issues that matter most. It will deliver the transparency that stakeholders are demanding, in order to assess sustainability impacts and performance across the sector.”

Mia D’Adhemar, Senior Manager, GRI Sector Program

GRI has long been helping companies to advance their sustainability reporting and communicate their impacts on key issues, and IPIECA has enjoyed a constructive relationship over many years. Our members are committed to sustainability reporting, with many using the GRI Standards to guide the development of their reports. IPIECA welcomes GRI efforts to support the oil and gas industry to effectively communicate with stakeholders, as well as to harmonise disclosure expectations with other frameworks.”

Brian Sullivan, Executive Director of IPIECA (International Petroleum Industry Environmental Conservation Association)

The World Benchmarking Alliance welcomes our ally, GRI's new Oil and Gas Sector Standard, as a major step forward in increasing transparency and disclosure by companies in the sector. More information on how companies will achieve a just and an equitable low carbon transition will enable the WBA Climate and Energy Benchmark to measure progress and hold companies to account.”

Charlotte Hugman, Leading Research, Decarbonisation and Energy Transformation, World Benchmarking Alliance

For Sasol, having just launched its new emission reduction targets, the Sector Standard for Oil and Gas is an important tool through which Sasol is able to position its insights as it transitions, with focused stakeholder engagement where it truly matters. As we progress along the journey, the GRI Standard also allows us and other industry players to re-evaluate data in the context of the identified drivers of change.”

Alexandra Russell, Chief Risk Officer for Sasol, the global integrated energy company (and a member of the working group)

Sector Standards complete GRI’s integrated and modular system of reporting. Organizations begin with the Universal Standards – for which a major update has published today - then their applicable Sector Standards alongside relevant Topic Standards. With 40 sectors identified, further standards for coal, mining, agriculture, aquaculture and fishing are already under development.

GRI 11: Oil and Gas Sector 2021 guides companies to engage with the likely relevant GRI Topic Standards, describes the sectors most significant sustainability impacts, while introducing new, sector-specific disclosures. Freely available now for download, it come into effect for reporting from 1 January 2023, with early adoption encouraged.

The Sector Standard for Oil and Gas is the first to be developed under the GRI Sector Program. It was initiated and approved by the Global Sustainability Standards Board, the independent body responsible for setting the GRI Standards. The Standard was developed by a 17-member project working group, which is also progressing a Sector Standard for Coal, expected to be completed in early 2022.