The GHG Protocol Corporate Standard was created by the World Resources Institute. It provides standards and guidance for companies and other types of organizations to account for their emissions. It covers the accounting and reporting of the six greenhouse gases covered by the Kyoto Protocol—carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (N2O), hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), perfluorocarbons (PFCs),and sulphur hexafluoride (SF6). The standard and guidance were designed with the following objectives in mind:
- To help companies prepare a GHG inventory that represents a true and fair account of their emissions, through the use of standardized approaches and principles
- To simplify and reduce the costs of compiling a GHG inventory
- To provide business with information that can be used to build an effective strategy to manage and reduce GHG emissions
- To provide information that facilitates participation in voluntary and mandatory GHG programs
- To increase consistency and transparency in GHG accounting and reporting among various companies and GHG programs.
Many existing GHG programs use it for their own accounting and reporting requirements and it is compatible with most of them, including:
- Voluntary GHG reduction programs, e.g., the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Climate Savers, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Climate Leaders, the Climate Neutral Network, and the Business Leaders Initiative on Climate Change (BLICC)
- GHG registries, e.g., California Climate Action Registry (CCAR), World Economic Forum Global GHG Registry
- National and regional industry initiatives, e.g., New Zealand Business Council for Sustainable Development, Taiwan Business Council for Sustainable Development, Association des entreprises pour la réduction des gaz à effet de serre (AERES)
- GHG trading programs,4 e.g., UK Emissions Trading Scheme (UK ETS), Chicago Climate Exchange (CCX), and the European Union Greenhouse Gas Emissions Allowance Trading Scheme (EU ETS)
- Sector-specific protocols developed by a number of industry associations, e.g., International Aluminum Institute, International Council of Forest and Paper Associations, International Iron and Steel Institute, the WBCSD Cement Sustainability Initiative, and the International Petroleum Industry Environmental Conservation Association (IPIECA).
Overall, the GHG Protocol helps companies answer the following questions:
- What should I consider when setting out to account for and report emissions?
- How do I deal with complex company structures and shared ownership?
- What is the difference between direct and indirect emissions and what is their relevance?Which indirect emissions should I report?
- How do I account for and report outsourced and leased operations?
- What is a base year and why do I need one?
- My emissions change with acquisitions and divestitures. How do I account for these?
- How do I identify my company’s emission sources?
- What kinds of tools are there to help me calculate emissions?
- What data collection activities and data management issues do my facilities have to deal with?
- What determines the quality and credibility of my emissions information?
- How should I account for and report GHG offsets that I sell or purchase?
- What information should be included in a GHG public emissions report?
- What data must be available to obtain external verification of the inventory data?
- What is involved in setting an emissions target and how do I report performance in relation to my target?