GHG Professional Certification: onwards and upwards
Since the June 2011 global launch of the EP(GHG) and EPt(GHG) designations under our Professional Certification Program, in partnership with ECO Canada, we have seen an outpouring of enthusiasm from individuals and organizations alike. More than 350 individuals from all regions in the world have started the application process for the EP(GHG) and EPt(GHG) titles; a response that we have found both validating and humbling. Now that this groundbreaking GHG certification program has been launched, we would like to reaffirm our motivations and look forward to the important role professionalization will play for the future of carbon management. Admittedly, relative to the fast-changing fads in climate change policy, GHGMI’s activities in this area probably seem to you like a tortoise rather than a hare. We see just the opposite.
Our long-term commitment to personnel certification of GHG professionals is driven by a vision of intensifying negative climate impacts and enhanced concerted efforts to mitigate them through the overhaul of GHG emitting activities. Over the coming years and decades, the world will look for trusted actors to support such activities. Certification is a critical step toward preparedness built upon professional requirements in GHG measurement and management that are based on formalized standards of competency and ethics. Ethics, although often overlooked, are as important as technical capabilities to defining a profession, which is why one of our first projects was to establish the GHGMI Code of Conduct. As my colleague Michael Gillenwater said in an earlier message following the EP(GHG) launch, “we see our role at GHGMI as but a conduit for a professional movement; a movement that we want to catalyze and see as being much larger than our organization.”
Over the last few years, we have seen a change of attitude in the international arena. Policy makers are rightly giving attention to long-term issues related to the measurement, reporting, and verification (MRV) of GHG emissions and removals. Once an obscure “technical” issue, MRV has taken center stage in efforts underway at national, sectoral, local, and project levels. From improving the quality of national GHG inventories to REDD+ readiness and from offset project implementation to corporate social responsibility initiatives, MRV is recognized as the essential foundation upon which to build successful and credible mitigation strategies. For any such efforts to have meaningful results, there is an underlying urgency to enhance the capacity and widen the pool of highly qualified experts available to undertake, oversee, and implement emission reduction initiatives.
What we see
Recently, I participated as lead trainer in a series of regional workshops in Africa, Asia, and Latin America organized by the UNFCCC secretariat. It was a great opportunity to share experience and get to know a new group of talented, hardworking, and inspiring GHG inventory experts. But in talking with them I was dumbfounded by how many of them had encountered serious challenges with hired consultants. Many were frustrated by the limits of the consultants’ technical abilities — gravely troubling in its own right — but even more disturbing was some consultants’ failure (even unwillingness in some cases, believe it or not!) to leave behind the data that they used to prepare parts of the national GHG inventory. This questionable practice has seeded frustration and burdened many countries that are now required not only to prepare GHG inventories for more recent years, but also replicate estimates for earlier years without access to the data collected in the past. Although it is clear that this type of behavior is not standard business practice among the international consultant community, it speaks volumes to the need for more ethical, competent, and respectful experts who conduct their work as professionals with a serious concern for both their clients and the future of the GHG field.
GHGMI and its partners have endeavored to maintain high standards for our Certification programs. Applicants must demonstrate not only their academic qualifications but that they possess the required experience and expertise in GHG quantification and/or verification. The requirements are strict and the international review process that each application goes through is detailed and rigorous. The certification criteria were compiled through a judicious process that matches the skills and expertise to the tasks required of GHG practitioners.
Admittedly, only a small number of our applicants have been successfully certified to date, in large part due to the high bar set. But those who have been certified now belong to an elite group and possess an internationally recognized certification that unambiguously signals their expertise.
Let me make it clear that the EP(GHG) and EPt(GHG) programs are not certificate programs for which one need only take a training course and pass a corresponding exam (a misconception partly propagated by confusion between similar terms —i.e., “certificate” vs. “certification”— and further compounded by programs that blur these definitions). If you are thinking about starting the application process, make sure that you understand the requirements and the differences between EP(GHG) and EPt(GHG). This will save a lot of frustration and help you decide whether these programs are for you. And do not forget, we are here to help you, so do not hesitate to get in touch; we will be happy to talk to you and guide you to make the right decision.
A new profession
Given the seriousness and scale of the climate change challenge, as well as the lag times involved, we view it as important to start the process of professionalization now. New professions often take generations to become established within specific communities. For GHG measurement and management, we are working to make it happen globally in one to two decades. On that scale, GHGMI would seem to be more of a hare than a tortoise.