Corporate greenhouse gas (GHG) accounting has become more prevalent as industries and governments around the world recognize the need to integrate comprehensive emissions data into business, policy and investment decisions. The International Organization for Standardization defines verification as the “systematic, independent and documented process for the evaluation of a greenhouse gas assertion against agreed verification criteria” (ISO, 2006), and it is a key step in the assessment process, providing increased confidence in the reliability and comparability of results.
In recent years, the number of mandatory and voluntary programs requiring or rewarding third-party assurance has increased, resulting in a larger number of corporations seeking verification. Results from the CDP’s 2014 “S&P 500 Climate Change Report” demonstrate this trend; of the 348 companies responding, 52% publicly disclosed assurance activities associated with Scope 1 emissions and 47% disclosed assurance of Scope 2 emissions, while just over a third of S&P 500 respondents (36%) reported verification activities for Scope 3 emissions (CDP, 2014). Comparatively, only 23% of respondents reported verification activities associated with any scope in 2010 (CDP, 2010).
Given the amount of time and resources being spent preparing for, and undergoing, verification, it was apparent that insight into potential process efficiencies available to businesses would be of significant value. These efficiencies can be broadly categorized into three stages: assessment scoping, the GHG inventory process and verification. A fourth area, specific to the use of an audit-ready GHG management solution, is discussed as it relates to significant streamlining throughout each of the above three steps.