Carbon accounting systems do not consider supply chains, researchers warn

The Government’s net-zero targets could be worthless if current carbon accounting systems aren’t radically reformed. 

According to new research, under the current international carbon accounting standards used to calculate carbon neutrality, emissions from supply chains, after-sale product use and waste aren’t included. 

As a result: 

  • Supermarkets selling food from UK farms risk having higher reported carbon emissions than those that import all their products from abroad.
  • Schemes that encourage staff to walk and cycle to work may add to a UK business’ reported carbon emissions.
  • An initiative to save peat bogs that will absorb and lock in carbon for millennia is deemed less carbon efficient than low-energy light bulbs.
  • Projects to recycle and reuse won’t register as carbon-saving at all. 

red and blue light streaks

Professor Ian Thomson, who co-led the research and is an international expert on environmental accounting said: ‘Some of the carbon accounting systems and evaluation processes in the UK are farcical and inadequate, lagging well behind net-zero thinking and creating a structural barrier to implementing effective solutions.

‘Without robust, reliable and trusted carbon accounting evidence, it’s likely that the UK’s net-zero carbon transition will be inhibited by poorly-informed decisions based on inappropriate evidence.’

The research project is currently working on a programme of suggested reforms to carbon accounting protocols that they say are essential to ensuring any successful outcome from COP26.

In related news, as regulators home in on environmental violations, companies are looking for ways to deal with the ever-increasing frequency of data requests writes Jeff Ladner, vice president of environmental performance at Sphera.

Photo by Maxim Hopman





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