At GreenBiz last week, I heard two sentiments loud and clear. First, we will report our carbon emissions. That is inevitable. Second, I heard apprehension about how companies will get their arms around emissions reporting.
The reason I joined a carbon accounting software company is that I have seen a similar challenge before and I am confident that we can do this. We have the software to enable compliance. We have the software to defend greenwashing claims. Reporting doesn’t need to be as hard as it has been with manual processes and it won’t be as complicated as people fear. We can do this. Why am I so confident? I have been here before.
I have worked at the SEC twice. The first time was from 1998 to 2005. I saw the dot-com boom and bust, spoke on the phone with Larry Page and Sergei Brin before Google’s IPO, and worked on the Exxon-Mobil and the BP-Amoco mergers. I was at the SEC during the implosions of Enron and WorldCom, and the subsequent passage of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act. I was a Counsel for Commissioner Roel Campos during the SEC’s crafting and adoption of the rules that implemented Sarbanes-Oxley. My second tour at the SEC was to help with crafting the climate disclosure proposal. Needless to say, I’ve been incredibly fortunate in my career.
Why this bit of personal history? The parallels between the implementation of Sarbanes-Oxley and the climate rules are significant. I have every confidence that companies will soon come to report their greenhouse gas emissions as a normal part of doing business. Companies were apprehensive about the new internal controls provisions of the Sarbanes-Oxley rules. Yet, we saw that they were able to comply, given the right tools and systems. The same is true for the forthcoming climate rules. We can calculate and report greenhouse gas emissions with the right tools. What’s more, as we saw with Sarbanes-Oxley, reporting will get easier over time.