Ending the “Carbon Cowboy” Era: Globally certifying GHG management professionals

June 7, 2011, by Tim Stumhofer

The Greenhouse Gas Management Institute is elated to today announce that it has partnered with the Environmental Careers Organization of Canada (ECO Canada) to launch a groundbreaking new professional certification for GHG practitioners: the EP(GHG).

If you’re curious about the specifics of what the EP(GHG) entails, the press release announcing this new certification is provided below and further information is available at www.epghg.org. But first, we’d like to take this opportunity to provide some background on how this new professional certification fits into the broader need for professionalization across GHG measurement, reporting, verification (MRV), and carbon management.

The need for professionalization

As an organization with deep experience training GHG practitioners across the world in collaboration with leading climate change institutions, we have cultivated a unique perspective on the challenges endemic to developing the human resources required to implement and scale climate policies and programs. This experience has made us a strong advocate of the power of professionalization to expand the impact of training and capacity building initiatives. In brief, it is our view that professionalization is an immensely powerful tool to assure competency and experience, introduce professional norms and ethics, and design systems to develop and scale human resource capacity.

As a part of GHGMI’s mission, we have embraced and strategically prioritized a path toward a professional model that incorporates these elements. Today’s launch of the EP(GHG) certification marks a critical step toward the realization of these guiding objectives.

Professional certification as assurance

Personnel certification is the cornerstone of most fields deemed critical to social welfare. By codifying minimum knowledge, competency, and experience requirements, professional certification institutions enhance governance, increase transparency, and reduce risk and transaction costs across a range of occupations and issues. With respect to climate policy, competent and experienced professionals are critical to developing GHG metrics, assuring their quality, and ultimately meeting the objectives of the programs that rely upon these performance metrics. For detailed thinking on how professional certification stands to benefit specific climate program applications, we invite you to take a look at our commentaries on human resources in existing and emerging climate programs:

Professional certification as a conduit for professional norms development

Personnel certification also introduces an ethical dimension tied to individual professional behavior. Sound ethics are particularly vital for GHG markets and programs, which deal in intangible goods and are dependent on political support for their continued existence. (For further discussion of ethical challenges in GHG accounting see the GHGMI issue brief “Taking Quality Assurance Seriously in Carbon Markets.”)

In 2009, GHGMI released a first-of-its kind Code of Conduct for GHG professionals, an initiative which seeks to not only safeguard against malfeasance (i.e., the world’s “carbon cowboys”), but foster a supportive and constructive culture of professional practice. The EP(GHG) certification further embeds ethics by incorporating the GHGMI Code of Conduct.

Professional certification as a career path

Personnel certification unambiguously outlines a career path for aspiring professionals, key to meeting the scale and pace of market demand for qualified practitioners.

Through GHGMI’s work developing and providing training to climate practitioners from all types of organizations and institutions, sectors of the economy, and geographies we have honed unparalleled insight to the needs of employers, climate program administrators, and practitioners from novice students to seasoned experts. From this perspective we can say with great confidence that a clear professional ladder would greatly benefit stakeholders across the board.

In addition to GHGMI’s institutional learning we have also collected empirical data over the last two years from over 1,000 global GHG practitioners, which we’ve published as the 2009 and 2010 editions of the “Greenhouse Gas and Climate Change Workforce Needs Assessment Survey Report.” Notably, last year’s survey confirmed a strong demand for professional certification with a majority of jobseekers sighting challenges in demonstrating their GHG-related qualifications in the absence of clear indicators, a further 85% of employers said a professional certification scheme would have aided their recruitment.

A clear stepwise professional path that allows career-minded individuals to enter the field and scale the practitioner workforce is all the more critical in the face of concerns cited in this survey and elsewhere regarding the state of today’s technical human resources capacity available for existing climate programs and graver projections looming over the specter of further expanded GHG measurement, reporting, and verification regimes.

The EP(GHG)

In sum, we are excited to introduce the EP(GHG) certification, a key milestone in the development of the robust infrastructure essential to professionalizing the work of GHG practitioners.

(Press release below)

Launch of the World’s First ISO Accredited Greenhouse Gas Professional Certification

June 2011 – The Greenhouse Gas Management Institute and the Environmental Careers Organization of Canada (ECO Canada) are announcing a groundbreaking global personnel  certification program for “carbon management” professionals. The Environmental Professional Certification on Greenhouse Gases – EP(GHG) – is the world’s first and only professional greenhouse gas-related certification accredited to ISO 17024.

ISO 17024, an international accreditation standard for bodies operating personnel certification schemes, defines criteria that a professional certification program must meet to assure quality and objectivity. As the first and only ISO 17024 accredited program for greenhouse gas professionals, the EP(GHG) certification stands as a uniquely robust, globally recognized credential.

With pressure to meet strict standards and regulations, companies and governments continue to increase the demand for experts highly qualified in measuring and managing greenhouse gas emissions and removals. In a recent global survey, undertaken by the Greenhouse Gas Management Institute, eighty per cent of employers polled stated they would be more inclined to hire certified professionals over non-certified GHG practitioners.

The EP(GHG) is open to all qualified professionals working on the quantification and/or verification of GHGs arising from national activities, from activities of organizations, entities, facilities or emissions reduction projects.

“Greenhouse gas measurement, reporting, and verification underpin all international efforts to address climate change. It is our vision to ensure that there is an adequate supply of certified professionals to meet the growing needs of the global GHG measurement and management climate policies/programs. The EP(GHG) will provide certainty to the global community that quantification and verification of GHGs can be undertaken at the highest possible professional standard,” says Grant Trump, CEO of ECO Canada.

“The world desperately needs the field of GHG management to mature. To implement the type of climate change policies necessary to fully address the problem, a process of professionalization must be initiated quickly, globally, and at all levels, from intergovernmental to corporate. Our future relies on building and maintaining the confidence of the public and decision makers that climate change policies can work. A globally uniform and ISO accredited professional certification is a fundamental institutional building block of a low carbon future,” stated Michael Gillenwater, Executive Director and Dean of the GHG Management Institute.

To help build a new and growing generation of GHG professionals, the Greenhouse Gas Management Institute and Environmental Careers Organization Canada partnership is also launching the Environmental Professional in Training title – EPt(GHG). The EPt(GHG) distinction will be available to emerging professionals who have satisfied EP(GHG) post-secondary education requirements but have not yet completed the extensive work experience and/or GHG training  necessary to achieve the EP(GHG) certification. Both the EP(GHG) and EPt(GHG) titles are available worldwide.

For more information www.epghg.org or info@epghg.org.


One comment on “Ending the “Carbon Cowboy” Era: Globally certifying GHG management professionals

  1. I do support the work of the GHGMI partnering with ECO-Canada to advance the credibility of GHG accounting and management to address climate change. As an expert trained by the GHGMI, my work in Kenya is to promote the principles and ethics of the profession and certification will increase visibility and credibility worldwide. Congratulations for the move taken in that direction.

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