Climate change is a fact! Emissions of anthropogenic greenhouse gases (GHG) are the main cause. Companies can make their contribution to GHG reduction - and report on it credibly. The prerequisite is a GHG inventory, for example in accordance with ISO 14064-1 standard. You can read more about what needs to be taken into account when preparing a GHG inventory in compliance with the standard, verifying it and reporting on it in this blog post.

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What is a GHG inventory?

Greenhouse gases (GHGs) such as carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), or nitrous oxide (N2O), when in the atmosphere, have the property of absorbing and radiating thermal radiation, thus warming the Earth's surface. This process creates conditions that make life on Earth possible. Greenhouse gases can be of natural or anthropogenic (man-made) origin. Biogenic and geogenic emissions and storage capacities (GHG sinks) are subject to a sensitive but in principle stable cycle. Anthropogenic emissions, on the other hand, represent a disturbance of the natural equilibrium - with the consequence of undesirable climate warming.

Companies contribute to this climate change to a not inconsiderable extent. Reducing their own emissions is an important contribution to achieving the targeted climate goals. However, this can only be achieved with an overview of one's own emissions in order to be able to draw meaningful conclusions. The solution? Draw up a GHG inventory.

GHG emission
The ISO 14064-1:2019 standard defines a GHG emission as "greenhouse gas emitted into the atmosphere." GHG emissions result either directly, e.g. from the manufacture of products, or indirectly, e.g. from the heating of business premises, from a company's business activities.

GHG sink
This technical term refers to the opposite process, namely the removal of greenhouse gases from the atmosphere. This is the case, for example, when CO2 is removed from the atmosphere in the course of natural CO2 cycles through oceans, forests or peatlands, etc. An artificial sink is, for example, the injection of CO2 into depleted natural gas reservoirs.

ISO 14064-1:2018 - Specification with guidance at the organization level for quantification and reporting of greenhouse gas emissions and removals

For a GHG inventory, GHG sources and - if available - GHG sinks must be identified and the emissions or removals quantified. What exactly companies can do is described in the ISO 14064-1 specification, which provides the appropriate framework for GHG accounting and its verification - and at the same time the basis for robust reporting.

 

GHG reporting - credible and transparent

Even if the contexts are actually more complex: In the public perception, companies from all sectors are significantly involved in global GHG emissions. Consumers are increasingly looking at the extent to which companies are credibly taking responsibility and, for example, driving down their CO2 emissions to reduce or even offset their corporate carbon footprint (CCF) in aggregate. ISO 14064-1 is aimed at all companies that want to do just that, regardless of their type and size.

The GHG inventory shows companies where they stand in terms of their contribution to climate change - and what measures need to be taken to move closer to the ideal of climate-neutral business. These include measures to reduce emissions in production, but also those to offset remaining emissions, e.g. by supporting climate projects through the purchase of credible carbon credits (certificates).

 

Verification of the GHG report

Beyond taking appropriate action, knowledge of one's corporate carbon footprint has increasing value for a company's external image - and reporting on it is increasingly becoming standard practice. Transparent reporting, however, requires a GHG inventory. If possible, this should be verified by an independent and qualified body such as DQS along ISO 14064-1. Verification is carried out according to the requirements of ISO 14064-3. All standards can be obtained from the ISO website.

 

Benefits from verification

There are numerous benefits from the verification of the greenhouse gas inventory, both in terms of ecological aspects and public perception:

  • Increase of the ecological effectiveness and seriousness of the GHG quantification
  • Increased credibility, consistency, and transparency of GHG quantification, monitoring, reporting, and verification with respect to the GHG footprint
  • Facilitate management in the development and realization of GHG strategies
  • Facilitate the development and implementation of measures to reduce GHG emissions or increase GHG removals
  • Facilitate the evaluation or tracking of performance and progress toward reducing GHG emissions or increasing GHG removals

 

GHG Balance - Conclusion

The specification provides guidance for determining and publishing GHG inventories at the corporate level. The standard can be used as a basis for verifying a GHG inventory, which requires the preparation of a GHG report.

ISO 14064-1 is not a management system standard. Therefore, it does not follow the common basic structure (High Level Structure) of modern management systems such as ISO 9001 (quality) or ISO 14001 (environment), but has its own unique structure.

The requirements section is divided into chapters 4 to 10, followed by annexes A to H with extensive explanations. Chapter 4 lists five principles that must also be used as a basis for GHG reporting. The requirements in both chapters 5 and 6 present - with a view to practice - the essential steps for preparing the GHG balance. Chapter 7 deals with GHG reduction and GHG removal initiatives and what impact they can have on the GHG inventory. Chapter 8 formulates requirements for the quality management of the GHG inventory. Chapter 9 sets requirements for the content of a GHG report and specifies which disclosures are mandatory, which are recommended, and which are optional. Chapter 10 briefly discusses the requirements for verification of the GHG inventory.

 

DQS - What we can do for you

We are your specialist for audits and certifications, for management systems and processes - and have been doing so very successfully for over 35 years. Founded as Germany's first body for the certification of management systems, we focus on how companies are managed and organized. We audit according to around 200 recognized standards and regulations as well as company- and association-specific standards. Through our work, we provide management with clear evidence for action.

Verification of your GHG footprint by our experts is based on ISO 14064-3 and increases your company's credibility with investors, customers and other interested parties, such as NGOs (non-governmental organizations). In addition, potential savings can be identified and reduction measures implemented, which means that market-relevant requirements, for example from the CDP (Carbon Disclosure Project), can also be covered. In addition, you are prepared to react quickly to any legal regulations.

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Any questions?

We look forward to talking to you!

Author
Altan Dayankac

DQS product manager and expert on numerous sustainability, climate, environmental and occupational safety topics. Altan Dayankac also contributes his expertise as an author and presenter on environmental and occupational health and safety committees, and at numerous professional events.

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<p>DQS standard expert for environmental management and occupational safety</p>