Carbon Accounting Essentials
Carbon Accounting Fundamentals

A Brief History

May 28, 2024
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A Brief History

So, how are these calculations performed?

Historically, it has been a manual effort using spreadsheets. The data is often outdated and must be gathered, cleaned, and calculated by consultants using manual processes that can introduce error.

Due to this complexity, much of today's carbon accounting is inaccurate and slow to respond to evolving reporting and calculation methods. It's also difficult to audit.

Many companies simply don't have the time, resources, or expertise to perform an accurate accounting of their emissions.

Spreadsheet representing data needed for carbon accounting

Industry Movers

In recent years, a handful of important industry conventions have taken place. These meetings resulted in the formation of several significant articles and treaties that have, in turn, shaped the landscape of carbon accounting and the climate crisis.

United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC) - 1992

Commonly referred to as "The Convention", the ultimate goal of the UNFCC was to stabilize greenhouse gas concentrations "at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic (human-induced) interference with the climate systems."

The Kyoto Protocol - 1997

An extension of the UNFCC, the Kyoto Protocol applies to seven greenhouse gasses:

  • Carbon Dioxide (CO2)
  • Methane ()
  • Nitrous oxide ()
  • Hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs)
  • Perfluorocarbons (PFCs)
  • Nitrogen trifluoride ()
  • Sulfur hexafluoride ()

While the convention asked industrialized countries to adopt policies to reduce GHG emissions, the Kyoto Protocol commits nations to taking specific action - limiting and reducing GHG emissions in accordance with agreed upon individual targets.

The Paris Agreement - 2015

The Paris Agreement is a legally binding international treaty on climate change. It aims to limit global warming to 1.5 °C, compared to pre-industrial levels. The long-term goal is to achieve a climate neutral world by mid-century.

The Paris Agreement is a landmark for climate change because, for the first time, a binding agreement was enacted to bring all nations together to combat the climate crisis.

It is estimated that in order to achieve the 1.5 °C limit, the world will have to cut GHG emissions by 55% by 2030.

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