Monday, December 14, 2009

Carbon Emissions - how do we ensure everyone is speaking the same language?

This will be my first in a series of posts today in an attempt to catch up on everything I've learned and experienced in my few days here. Saturday evening (12/12) I attended a talk entitled, "Driving low-carbon investment" which was sponsored by a number of organizations, including my firm PricewaterhouseCoopers. The panel included top business executives from various fields, including finance, manufacturing, etc., and the goal was to discuss how we can be sure that all companies are uniformly measuring, reporting, and verifiying their GHG emissions.

I'm sure that sounds like a very bland topic for a blog, and maybe it is, but I think it's an extremely important one. We are getting to a point where the science has been laid before us (something needs to change) and the solutions are beginning to solidify (e.g., cap and trade, renewable energy sources), but what does this really mean? How do we really operationalize and implement these solutions?

The panel's main recommendation was a fairly obvious one - there needs to be a global framework that defines the measurement and reporting of GHG emisssions, but I imagine that it will be a difficult one to solve. I would argue that this may be the case where industry can play an important and impactful role in the process by collaborating to develop a clearly defined and just measurement framework (meaning one that doesn't completely benefit industry alone!).

The other reason I think this was important to talk about is that it's a good example of the fact that all of these discussions, both those behind the closed doors and those accesible by the public, will be difficult to implement. Something like cap and trade is a great idea in theory, but we must remember that a huge undertaking is involved to ensure it's implemented in an effective and manageable way.

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