Amid continuing confusion over the scale, scope and timing of planned legislation governing carbon emissions, a leading force in the development of carbon optimisation software is warning that the entire issue could become meaningless unless all nations agree to a common emissions accounting standard.
Ewan French, co-developer of the world-beating CAST-CO2 carbon optimisation software and Chief Operating Officer of Barloworld Optimus, said this week that despite the global economic downturn, pressure on companies to reduce carbon emission remains on a sharp upwards curve – but that individual governments following their own targets and agendas will ultimately result in a dilution of the initiative unless all nations recognise and agree to adopt â€˜like-for-likeâ€™ carbon calculation and accounting processes.
â€œThe only commonality at present is that every nation on earth knows it has to tackle global warming and climate change, and many have already taken steps to tackle their own emissions issues by developing specific countrywide standards – and thatâ€™s precisely where the confusion liesâ€ he says.
â€œIf thereâ€™s going to be any impact at all, it has to be a global standard, not seventy different onesâ€ he commented this week – adding that events of the past year have brought into sharp focus â€˜the glaring lack of common directionâ€™ over emissions and targetsâ€¦
in the UK, the draft Climate Change Bill calls for an independent panel to set ministers a â€˜carbon budgetâ€™ every five years, in a bid to cut emissions by 60% by 2050
the European Parliament has also backed a package of measures to combat global warming – seen as a key EU initiative with agreement to cut emissions by 20% by 2020
in the US, the Lieberman-Warner bill aims to reduce emissions by 63% of 2005 levels by 2050 though incoming president-elect Barack Obama has pledged to uphold his election campaign target of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 80% by 2050.
Taiwanâ€™s GHG Reduction Act (Sep 06) is calling for 15% reduction by 2014
Chinaâ€™s National Climate Change Programme 2007 sets target of 20% reduction of energy consumption per unit GDP by 2010 (compared to 2005)
And in a month of far-reaching effects, campaigners in Australia – until recently hailed as the worldâ€™s most forward-looking nation in campaigning against GHG emissions – actively condemned the countryâ€™s newly-revealed climate plan calling for emissions to be cut by between between 5% and 15% by 2020 from 2000 levels and introducing a carbon trading scheme in 2010, describing the initiative as â€˜a jokeâ€™.
Now, with less than a year go to before the UN Climate Treaty successor to Kyoto is hammered-out in time for the Copenhagen Climate Conference planned for December this year, Ewan French is calling for the formal adoption of a global standard.
Following official confirmation to two of Barloworld Optimusâ€™ global CAST-CO2 clients, Colgate Palmolive and CEVA Logistics that the high-impact tool is developed in line with GHG Protocol standards, he says that support is growing for adoption of the published standard developed by the World Resources Institute and the World Business Council for Sustainable Development and described as the â€™single and most effective modelâ€™ for common accounting procedures.
Initially launched in 2001 as part of its mission is to develop internationally-accepted GHG accounting and reporting standards, the recently unveiled second draft covers the accounting and reporting of all six greenhouse gases covered by the Kyoto Protocol – carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (N2O), hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), perfluorocarbons (PFCs), and sulphur hexafluoride (SF6).
According to the report, five key objectives were instrumental in its development: to help companies prepare a GHG inventory that represents a true and fair account of their emissions through the use of standardised approaches and principles; to simplify and reduce the costs of compiling a GHG inventory; to provide business with information that can be used to build an effective strategy to manage and reduce GHG emissions; to provide information that facilitates participation in voluntary and mandatory GHG programmes; and to increase consistency and transparency in GHG accounting and reporting.
According to Ewan French, there are major advantages in agreeing a common global standard – not least in terms of cost and reporting consistency, but also because a common standard ultimately makes tracking and progress comparison easier.
He also adds that now is the time to take the necessary steps to adopt the protocol as the global accounting standard as companies begin to step up their emissions reduction initiatives as a way of both reducing costs and boosting their image in terms of corporate social responsibility.
â€œItâ€™s difficult to see the ultimate use of figures and information derived from widely-varying accounting procedures. In its place, the Greenhouse Gases Initiative offers a route to reporting that is consistent, accurate and transparent, and as such should be promoted for use as the single global standard.
He added that 2009 is likely to see growing demands on all organisations to get better at managing emissions, and that despite the global financial crisis, the next few years will see all companies being compelled to manage the carbon footprint of their products across the supply chain in order to mitigate the effects of climate change, increasing energy costs and changing consumer attitudes.
â€œThatâ€™s why I say that we should not only embrace the GHG protocol as the UK standard as of now, but also widely promote the initiative into becoming the one, true global standardâ€ he said.
Note to editors:
Ewan French is Chief Operating Officer of Barloworld Optimus and co-developer of CAST-CO2.
Solihull-based Barloworld Optimus has 70 staff globally with 50 based in the UK, and is part of the Barloworld group operating in 42 countries, employing 26,000 staff worldwide and notching up $4.8 billion turnover.
Last year, leading research organisation AMR revealed that one in five of the worldâ€™s top-performing companies including Nokia, Coca-Cola and Hewlett-Packard uses supply chain planning or modelling tools designed and developed by the UK-based company whose world-beating software applications are:
CAST – with more than 200 licences world-wide and over 1000 trained users is used to evaluate and identify different supply chain strategies, in turn leading to significant cost savings and service improvements while allowing customers to design and configure the optimal supply chain infrastructure.
CAST-CO2: the companyâ€™s latest carbon emission application dedicated to reducing emissions in supply chains. Includes standard emissions factor data for different vehicles (including carriers), modes of transport, warehouse types, energy types as well as the capability to define customer specific vehicles and factors, CAST-CO2 can measure either CO2 or Carbon and also has the ability to factor in carbon while optimizing supply chain networks
Optimiza – an advanced inventory optimisation application that, unlike traditional inventory re-ordering systems, takes into account the unique supply and demand characteristics of its supply chain, effectively reducing stock levels by between 15-50% while increasing service levels by as much as 20%.
ODP (Optimiza Demand Planner) – a purpose-built demand management tool designed to create responsive multi-level multi-channel forecasts with highly flexible financial views.
CINO (Combined Inventory and Network Optimisation) – a major new tool specifically developed to combat the potentially fatal downside of multi-sourcing and multi-echelon inventory flow.
Details of the applications are available on the companyâ€™s website www.barloworldoptimus.com