An Update on GHG Emissions Reporting and Carbon Offsets

05/09/2013 | By Eric Woodroof, Ph.D., CEM, CRM

New options available to lower your carbon footprint

Why should you care about emissions reporting? Because based on your facility type, you may be required to report to the EPA, your state agency, or even to the Securities and Exchange Commission. More importantly, your customers and supply chain or distribution channels may expect your organization to be green in the same way they expect you to have a diversity or no sweatshop policy. 

Due to recent climate-related events such as Superstorm Sandy, widespread droughts, and floods, U.S. consumers have become more sensitive to climate change. Even oil companies are now agreeing that climate change is real and largely a man-made phenomenon. If you haven’t followed the sudden change of opinions, you may consider research done by Dr. Richard Muller, who recently completed an exhaustive scientific review on whether climate change is man-made or not.  

Regardless of your personal beliefs, the citizen/consumer (more than the government) is the key accelerator in the development of GHG reporting and offset trading in the carbon markets. This article will provide a brief update with new information from an international conference I just attended. It is relevant because buildings contribute more GHGs than any other sector. If you would like to review a little more background on the “Why, What, and How” of emissions reporting, click here for a short but comprehensive review.

Recent Developments
For the past few years, the U.S. GHG emissions market has been a little stagnant due to government policy inaction as well as dull economic conditions. Although there have been numerous international Conference of Parties (COP) meetings, the lack of a significant, binding successor agreement to the Kyoto Protocol has also caused a stalling of policy development. Despite these facts, the trading of voluntary carbon offsets and Renewable Energy Credits has remained active due to market, consumer, and local forces.

Eric A. Woodroof, Ph.D., is the Chairman of the Board for the Certified Carbon Reduction Manager (CRM) program and he has been a board member of the Certified Energy Manager (CEM) Program since 1999. His clients include government agencies, airports, utilities, cities, universities and foreign governments. Private clients include IBM, Pepsi, GM, Verizon, Hertz, Visteon, JP Morgan-Chase, and Lockheed Martin.

The U.S. already has a variety of emissions trading options on both coasts, as well as via the internet. Most of the current trading occurs between power plants and heavy emitters. Ultimately, the addition of carbon expenses – whether via permit auctions, trading, offsets or a carbon tax – essentially adds to the kWh cost that you pay your utility.

Some states, cities, and other authorities may have local regulations to reduce GHG emissions. Remember if a mayor or governor is elected on their environmental policy, they can implement local legislation that impacts you. Some politicians have become more aware of the impacts of climate change because the U.S. has been spending more on the affects from abnormal weather – for example, $60 billion was spent on damages from Superstorm Sandy.

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