Carbon Neutral Registration

Discussion paper.

New Standards

The climate change institute is proposing a registry for businesses that that have self-assessed their carbon neutral status after reducing and offsetting their emissions.

Carbon Neutral Registration is not a substitution for full Carbon Neutral Certification. A company may be better advised to seek full certification if that more suits their business.

A business can always get carbon neutral registration and then get full certification at later date.

Small businesses can be disadvantaged in attempting to be carbon neutral because of the fees and time involved with private certification firms.

These firms may do an excellent job, but it can be hard for smaller companies to justify the expense. They don’t have the financial resources of larger companies.

If we want companies to be involved in fighting climate change, then we must make it straight forward and as inexpensive as possible to become carbon neutral.

Money should be spent on emission reduction and offsets that support carbon removal projects, not paying large administrative compliance fees.

Getting certification is confusing to many

There is no single entity where you get carbon neutral certification, but a collection of private companies that offer it. Many have relatively unknown brand names. Not everybody may believe that the private certifying company is 100% trustworthy. What about products coming from overseas with an obscure climate neutral logo?

We believe that it is better to have a transparent system, where the public can see a company’s emission reduction policies and procedures. Where they can readily see information such as proof of purchase of carbon offsets. Unless there are good commercial reasons for being secretive, your investment in reducing emissions and offsetting should be on the public record. Let the public know your company is fighting climate change.

A point of confusion is the names of the different certifications. Some are are for being ‘climate neutral’ or ‘climate active’ instead of just saying ‘carbon neutral’, which is the whole point of this exercise. So that consumers will support your products because your company is doing something about climate change.

Image the case of a tradesperson that is concerned about climate change and wants his or her small business to be carbon neutral as soon as possible. If they google ‘carbon neutral certification’ they will be presented with a confusing minefield which invariably involves the engagement of expensive-looking consultants.

The costs might seem prohibitive to many small business owners. It doesn’t seem possible to find out what the out the fees are going to be unless you book an appointment with a consultant. The process looks complicated and expensive. It shouldn’t be like that if we want to encourage companies to be carbon neutral.

Carbon Neutral registration should not involve long timeframes and large fees. If small and mid-sized companies find it difficult and expensive to get carbon neutral certification, they may not be able to compete with larger and overseas companies. More and more, consumers are being presented with products made overseas that claim to be certified carbon neutral. If our domestic businesses are to compete they need to be able to get genuine carbon neutral status quickly and at a low adminstrative cost.

The Climate Change Institute is proposing a system where companies can self-assess their own carbon footprint and offsets required to be carbon neutral. They must be prepared to substantiate their claims and be able to verify their evidence and calculations.

A company would need to have evidence of their carbon neutrality that is either made publicly available or verified by a third party with a third party, such as a certified accountant.

We would ensure that our followers and the general public know that the ‘Carbon Neutral’ logo means that the company is self assessing and managing their emission reduction and offset program.

Registration includes putting the company information on our website with links to that company’s emission reduction and offsetting policies and procedures. If some information is commercially sensitive then a third party would need to verify that calculations have been checked and the appropriate evidence sighted.

There is no reason why companies cannot do their own emission reduction and carbon footprint administration.

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People in the company are often better placed to account for and control their emissions.

Using outside consultants means having someone you don’t know through your accounts and seeing all your company information.

The Climate Change Institute is a trusted brand

The Climate Change Institute is a well known organization in social media with hundreds of thousands of followers. Once registered you can display the Institute’s label on your website, ads, packaging and anywhere where people come in contact with your brand. We will let the world know that your company is investing in fighting climate change. This is a free service by the Climate Change Institute so consumers can recognize and reward companies that take steps to reduce climate change.

We will register companies that self-assess, provided they are able to show evidence and we can contact them to verify their information.

Registration means being added to The Climate Change Institute Register of Carbon Neutral Companies. Not that we do not use the term ‘certification’.

It is up to consumers to decide whether they trust the company to self asses effectively or would prefer to only deal with those that have carbon neutral certification.

Problems with existing certification regimes

Carbon footprints are often measured annually. Essential data includes energy bills, transport costs, waste generation and other emissions which are a result of company activities. The issue with annual measurements is the timeliness of the data.

Company operations and emission levels may have changed significantly since the previous year. Yet the company is still certified as carbon neutral. Companies that offset for the previous period may not be actually carbon neutral now.

There have been problems reported with the accuracy of the measurement of carbon footprints. A recent Science News report from Carnegie Mellon University said that there is a large uncertainty in carbon footprint calculating.

So when a business is certified as climate or carbon neutral it may not actually be 100% correct. There are also indirect emissions that an individual or business generates that are not always included in the carbon footprint measurements.

Once a footprint is calculated, it is not complex to adjust it with latest data, report every month or annual quarter.

Companies should only have to pay for their offsets on a monthly basis, not an entire year in advance.

The Institute prefers the term ‘Carbon Neutral Company.’ because it is unambiguous and relates to the organisation itself. It covers scope 1 and 2 emissions which are those in control of the business enterprise. It does not necessarily relate to a product itself being carbon neutral. These may have emissions associated with obtaining the raw materials which would need to be included for the product to be deemed carbon neutral.

The emission figures given by suppliers, particularly overseas ones, may not be correct. So if a company is relying on them to determine the their carbon neutral obligations it could be construed as misleading behaviour. It certainly puts any competitors who are properly accounting for their emissions, at a disadvantage.

Products that you sell can be registered carbon neutral when you offset all the ‘upstream’ emissions that were created by its manufacture and transport to your business. These emissions are outside of the control of the business and termed scope 3 emissions.

For example, a manufacturer buys rolls of plastic that are turned into products. Provided the company is carbon neutral then if it offsets the emissions from the supply of raw materials, then the product is Carbon Neutral.

If a company’s products are exported to a country that charges a ‘carbon tariff’ then the Institute will allow that amount to be amortized against offset liabilities that the product may have incurred. Otherwise, consumers in countries that levy such a carbon tariff will be subject to paying twice for offsets on their carbon neutral products.   

Proposed company registration

To qualify for registration you must:

1 – Be implementing an emission reduction program. An emissions program is provided by the Institute, or you can use your own program.  

Without an emission reduction program you cannot get registration. Otherwise some of the more profitable companies could be tempted to declare themselves carbon neutral without cutting emissions but by offsetting all of them.

2 – Calculate your Company’s Carbon Footprint for emissions that your business directly contributes. There are footprint calculators on the Institute’s website.

3 – Offset your remaining emissions with Carbon Offset Certificates. You can obtain these from a variety of sources in the Internet.

The Institute will register you as a Carbon Neutral Company within scope 1 and 2 emissions.

If you qualify for registration then you can display the Institute’s label on your website, ads, packaging and anywhere where people come in contact with your brand.

Carbon accounting principles are based on the GHG Protocol – Corporate Standard and international standards ISO 14064 and ISO 14040.

If seeking to claim carbon neutrality, the carbon account of a product or service must be calculated according to these principles:

Relevance: the greenhouse gas inventory of a product or service must appropriately reflects the greenhouse gas emissions attributable to that product or service and serves the decision-making needs of users – both internal and external.

Completeness: all greenhouse gas emissions sources and activities within the defined life cycle boundary of the product or service must be accounted for and reported, and justify any exclusions.

Consistency: involves using methodologies to allow for meaningful comparisons of greenhouse gas emissions over time and document any changes to the data, boundary, methods or any other relevant factors in the time series.

Transparency: compile, analyse and document greenhouse gas information clearly and coherently so that auditors and the public may evaluate its credibility. Disclose any relevant assumptions and make appropriate references to the calculation methodologies and data sources used.

Accuracy: by ensuring the quantification of greenhouse gas emissions is unbiased (not systematically over or under actual emissions) and uncertainties are reduced as far as practicable. Achieve sufficient accuracy to enable users to make decisions with reasonable assurance as to the integrity of the reported information. Where uncertainty is high, use conservative values and assumptions.

People know that if we are to defeat climate change, then we must only buy from carbon neutral companies. We will broadcast your company information on our social media network of over 600,000 followers and publish it on our website.

More and more consumers and investors want to recognize and reward carbon neutral companies. We will make sure our followers and the general public are aware that your company is investing in fighting climate change and deserves their support.