On February 10, 2022 over 20 leading organizations announced a new initiative to accelerate the development of reliable carbon emissions accounting. The effort is called Carbon Call – a San Francisco-based nonprofit that mobilizes collective action, investment and resources from scientific, corporate, philanthropic and intergovernmental organizations that aim to solve the problem with CO2 accounting systems with low integrity and underreporting practices.
Among the companies participating in Carbon Call is Microsoft and the Linux Foundation. Other organizations include Capricorn Investment Group, Climate Change AI, Corporate Leaders Group Europe, Global Carbon Project, Global Council for Science and the Environment, International Science Council, LF Energy, Mila, Skoll Foundation, Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment, United Nations Environment Programme (collaborating organization), and United Nations Foundation.
The problem with reliable carbon emissions accounting practices is serious. It is critical for the world to count on a system that accurately measures greenhouse gas emissions while any fraudulent practices are unfeasible.
According to some analyses, there is a gap in underreported emissions that “ranges from at least 8.5 billion” to “13.3 billion tons a year.” Currently, carbon accounting is often characterized by data quality issues, measurement and reporting inconsistencies, siloed platforms, and infrastructure challenges which makes it difficult to compare, combine and share reliable data.
The Carbon Call initiative will address some key areas where there is more uncertainty. The areas are related to measuring emissions from land use, agriculture, timber harvest, forest and grassland conservation. Satellite images will be used to measure emissions from methane gas release.
The platform will provide data and measurements on carbon removal via natural means like forests or through direct air capture technologies. There will also be help available with indirect emissions like electricity use, consumers’ use of their products, business travel, transportation, waste disposal and employee commuting.
The initiative is not meant to build a ledger for reporting emissions but will aid efforts that do. According to Microsoft’s chief environmental officer Lucas Joppa “our expertise can be helpful in the world figuring this out.”
It has been mentioned in an investigation by the Washington Post that globally, nations are underreporting their greenhouse gas emissions by at least 8.5 billion tons. In another report that analyzed carbon-cutting pledges and carbon reporting from 25 corporations, interesting results came out. Amazon and Google had “low integrity” scores while Sony and Apple had “moderate integrity” climate responsibility rankings. Accenture was ranked “very low” and Microsoft was not evaluated.
Accurate and unified carbon accounting is needed in a world that actually wants to know whether emissions are decreasing. Even though there are different standards and requirements among countries regarding climate change laws and emissions regulations, they all need to unify around accurate and uncompromised CO2 accounting, otherwise, any net zero commitments are exposed to major execution risks.