A time for reflection

December 27, 2009, by Michael Gillenwater

As we close out this year, now is a good time for some refection before we charge into a new calendar. At the Institute, we have done just that, by releasing a report on our first two years of operation.

In founding the GHG Management Institute, we were inspired by looking into both the future and the past. For the future, we recognized that, despite short-term political volatility, addressing climate change will dominate our future and our children’s future. So, when we thought about what we could do to meet this challenge, we focused on thinking long-term and on core capacity needs.

To identify those needs, we looked to the past and asked ourselves how society has addressed other massive challenges. One of the reoccurring trends we saw was that when society faced a pervasive and difficult challenge, new professional classes often emerged to address them. The challenge of social justice saw the creation of lawyers, judges, and law enforcement. The challenge of funding government saw the creation of accountants (for paying taxes). The challenge of education saw the creation of teachers. And so on. The model of professionalization is pervasive throughout society. We decided this model needed to be replicated in the context of climate change. The only unique aspect of our challenge is that this process of professionalization needed to be done quickly and on a global scale.

In 2002 the foundations of the Institute began to be set. Finally, in 2007, the Greenhouse Gas Management Institute was launched as the only global institution of professional learning and development focused on the rigorous and serious issue managing the emissions that are the cause of global climate change.

We set up the Institute as a nonprofit organization because we recognized the need for a credible and independent forum for training and professional development. We believe performance metrics—for emissions, personnel, technologies, etc.—are the basis for addressing the challenge of climate change. In international negotiations we call the development of these metrics “monitoring, reporting, and verification” and “GHG inventories.” For corporations, we refer to “greenhouse gas accounting.” And in the offset project markets we speak in terms of “protocols, methodologies, and monitoring.” Underlying all of these policies, markets, regulations, programs, and standards are professionals that enable action to be taken over the long-term by managing (e.g., reducing) greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and providing the essential information needed to track performance.

The Institute’s educational, membership, and professional programs are designed to support GHG professionals globally to fulfill this essential role. Greenhouse gas management professionals will be one of the major green job categories of the future because they will provide the foundation upon which climate change policies and carbon markets will be implemented and grow.

Our focus is narrow by design: on GHG management, accounting, and auditing. Research and educational institutions around the globe are training experts in economics, engineering, and atmospheric science. And business and management schools are developing programs in corporate sustainability. But the Institute is the only global educational institution focused on the techniques and real world practicalities of accounting, auditing, and managing for GHG emissions. As we increasingly take the issue of climate change seriously, the need and demand for experts with skills and knowledge in GHG management and accounting will exponentially outstrip supply. Our 2009 Greenhouse Gas and Climate Change Workforce Needs Assessment Survey clearly illustrated the trends in the emerging field of GHG management. Organizations and governments around the world are beginning to realize that measuring and tracking GHG emissions is the first step to thinking about how to manage the issue. If you cannot measure, you cannot manage.

The Institute is not only focused on training. We take the term “professional” seriously and mean to create, in collaboration with our partners, professional designations that are unquestionably credible. Being a professional means meeting ethical, competency, and practice standards. With this definition in mind and our vision of becoming a leading professional association, we have created the world’s first Code of Conduct for GHG management professionals.

Currently, because of the near complete absence of educational and professional development opportunities at traditional institutions such as universities, there is no clear career path into the field of GHG management. Therefore, a rigorous training, membership, and professional certification programs will provide aspiring experts a clear career path that will enhance our ability to address the human resource needs that will result as we scale up our efforts to address climate change.

We sincerely fear the specter of discredit that would fall upon the entire endeavor of meeting the challenge of climate change if GHG policies and markets were to experience scandals like those in the financial world. The numbers upon which we build climate change polices and carbon markets must be of the upmost credibility.

Our primary learning strategy is a blend of the best of e-learning and interaction with experienced instructors. E-learning is a highly-effective means of reaching out, educating, and bringing together people around the world. I’ll be talking more about this in a later blog post.

In summary, much of the last decade has not been dominated by pleasant events. Terrorism, financial collapse, and more than a decade has passed the Kyoto Protocol was negotiated. Yet we seem only marginally closer to dealing with the challenge of climate change in a globally coordinated fashion. But, we take the long view, and try and look beyond our short-term political set backs. Climate change is real, this we know. Eventually the world will come to accept this fact more fully and embrace more aggressive action. Our role is to be sure the professional capacity is there, ready act, when the call goes out.

GHG Management Institute Historical Timeline

1990

Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) publishes first assessment report

1992

Earth Summit, United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) negotiated

1994

The UNFCCC entered into force

1995

IPCC publishes second assessment report

1997

Kyoto Protocol negotiated

2001

IPCC publishes third assessment report

World Resources Institute (WRI) and the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) publishes initial GHG Protocol corporate accounting standard

2002

Training program launched by the UNFCCC for GHG inventory compliance expert review teams, developed and taught by future staff of GHG Management Institute

2004

Experts at ClimateCHECK develop training courses for GHG verification and GHG accounting based on ISO 14064 and GHG Protocol

2005

Kyoto Protocol entered into force

WRI/WBCSD GHG Protocol for Project Accounting published

2006

GHG Experts Network launched with funding by UNDP as a precursor to the GHG Management Institute

Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) begins operation

Early 2007

The leaders of ClimateCHECK, the GHG Experts Network, and GoVida e-Learning begin discussions on formation of a global training and professional institute for GHG experts. Earth Council Geneva with support the Swiss Development Cooperation Agency helps finance first training course.

2007

IPCC publishes fourth assessment report

June  2007

GHG Management Institute incorporated as a nonprofit organization

November

2007

GHG Management Institute publicly launched!

Carbon Disclosure Project signs partnership agreement with GHG Management Institute

Offset Quality Initiative (OQI) launched with the GHG Management Institute as a founding member

December

2007

World Resources Institute signs partnership agreement with GHG Management Institute

Summer

2008

GHG Management Institute selected by Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) to develop accreditation and mandatory training program for verifiers

October

2008

GHG Management Institute partners with Point Carbon to develop global online training program on carbon markets.

November

2008

GHG Management Institute partners with World Bank to develop global training program on CDM and Joint Implementation (JI)

The UN’s Joint Implementation programme selects the GHG Management Institute to develop training program for verifier accreditation panels

January

2009

Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) emissions cap-and-trade and emission offset programs launched

February

2009

GHG Management Institute and Sequence Staffing release 2009 Greenhouse Gas and Climate Change Workforce Needs Assessment Survey Report

March

2009

GHG Management Institute trains Standards Council of Canada assessors on ISO 14064 and 14065

Fall

2009

GHG Management Institute partners with Harvard University Extension School to teach graduate course in sustainability, GHG management and accounting.

November

2009

GHG Management Institute launches new global membership program and publishes its first biennial report.




One response to “A time for reflection”

  1. carson chen says:

    As per suggestion made by Mr. Jake Carney, so I forward the comment as below for your comment?

    After COP15 Copenhagen Summit
    It has a little bit warmish while President Obama reemphasized ” reasserted America’s pledge to forward the work of the conference agenda back home in the United States no matter how the conclusion to be made after COP15 summit” On the other hand, it was so frustrated in the frozen weather of Copenhagen when we noted there wasn’t any significant progress for a new accord which likely is surround in the air. Obviously, the Climate change discourse and its solution to solve potential crisis of mankind may take even more longer with an unforeseeable distance way to go.

    Assuming all leaders from 193 countries they all realize the imperative issue and all agree it has to work out an accord as expected 10 days ago. Unfortunately, it was deeply disappointed. As 193 leaders, each represents one’s harvest expectation and his responsibility for the homeland after meeting. While the argument of Co2 (represents GHG ) emission cut still laid on the table without consensus, another topic of funds to be donated and allocation which raised another complex dead-knot .

    Backward, the major earth warming which was mainly caused by the Green House Gas (GHG, e.g. Co2, CH4, CFC, Sox, Nox, PFC etc. which a major part of GHG generated and accumulated in atmosphere for a long time historically during the industrialization progress not caused overnight, it was difficult to figure out which country shall be responsible and shall be payable if any one has over emitted? By Carbon Tax and trade? Carbon disclosure perhaps is a method, but who can monitor and supervisor?? That really makes solution falling into the complicate approach not as normal successful case “Simplify” instead. One example as below is explaining the dilemma

    We have constantly quoted the figures of year 2005, as per index made by CAIT under World Resource Institute, where has a notable figures of major GHG Emission in 2005 as below;
    Country(population) Total Mt co2 Rank % of Total Ton/person Rank
    China (1,304,500K) 7219.2(1) 19.12 5.5 72
    USA ( 296,507K) 6963.8(2) 18.44 23.5 7
    EU 5047.7(3) 13.37 10.3 39
    Russian 1960.0(4) 5.19 13.7 18
    India (1094,583) 1852.9(5) 4.91 1.7 120
    World Total 27525Mt World Population 6,461,584K Average 4.46Ton/Person
    Basically, assuming the total GHG of each country emission was calculated correctively. Thus, by means of Carbon Disclosure project, Carbon Tax etc. Acts, further assuming USA could control the GHG emission 25% down in next 10 years as expecting(5072.85Mt), which on the other hand, shows that India total and per person emissions are significant lower than both US and China, and only roughly around one fourth of the world average. Under a fair Co2 control, which perhaps reflects that India has right even to emit triple total Co2 emission and would still only be at 20% of per-capita level of USA. It is not a real method to abate the GHG emission but a trick game to forming another funds management bloc like IMF to maneuver Carbon trade, it obviously will be not much helpful for the Climate Change solution, for the GHG control, and the Carbon minimizing or Charge Carbon Tax /Carbon trade which would be involving even a very complicate calculation, as accuracy would be highly concerned which drops a spot of endless argument.

    Again, while President Obama indicated the “Clean Energy”, perhaps, by means of “Clean Energy Index” (similar to the pill’s ingredient) which could be effectively to unify each campaign combining together for at least following major favorable aspects:
    1. Encouraging Power generate from 100% Clean energy, e.g. Solar Energy, Wind, Hydropower even Hydrogen (we have waste more than 7000 times total earth consumption annually from Solar energy) so as respectively easier to minimize the Green House Gas.
    2. Each product to show/labeling what percentage used in “Clean Energy” to teach people how to judge the “Green Products”.
    3. Widely give incentive for what clean energy is applied for using e.g. Zero Emission Car, Fuelcell power pack, Hydrogen power etc.. To be selected preferably.

    That means “the best way of restrict GHG emission is using more Clean Energy instead of focusing on minimizing of Co2 which would be a dead-end. The G8 (July 2009 in Italy) and G20 summit(at Pittsburgh) as well as COP15 Copenhagen Summit yesterday. Are there some things wrong fundamentally. Perhaps, the corrective way would be reset and “simply” to consider “Clean Energy”!? And, Samso Island of Demark is a successful story which has been developing over 90% all energies are using clean energy. Let’s see, while funds to be used for those low-developing/poor countries to set up these visible SolarPower, HydroPower or Windpower facilities along with “Clean Energy Devices” which perhaps would be easier to achieve a Clean Energy Index as 10% over total country energy consumption within a few years. So as the rich and hi-industrialized countries leading by Obama administration to cast efforts for a 10% Clean Energy share within a few years which will be a way to minimize the impact of GHG also gain more new jobs as well as a new tools of economic stimulus.

    We Talk campaign which shall be touching the people’s heart worldwide” Under globalization movement today, each country could state what their using “Clean Energy” in their country or what product to show the “Clean Energy Index” which would be fairly represent the contribution or even third world or very low developed countries could participate. This conception would move away “only hi-industrialization countries could play” If so, we see that could be all human being to participate. In any event, the Earth Issue shall be all human-being to get involving.

    Hence, “Clean Energy Index” could be figure relatively much easier. e.g. what is the percentage of Clean Energy used in each country which is calculate-able or practically programmable the target e.g. each 5 years to be made 10%-20% Clean Energy share up toward 60%+ (assuming this is the guideline by an international organization of UN e.g. World Weather Organization)

    Recall Einstein’s spirit of simplicity “Everything should be made as simple as possible but not a simpler”, the “Clean Energy Index” perhaps would be another relatively easier way for solution of GHG abatement.

    Carson Chen
    General Secretary
    Non-Profitable Foundation
    R&D Center for Environmental Protection & hi-tech of ROC
    7F, #43, Sec. 1., Min-Sheng E. Rd., Taipei, Taiwan, 104
    Tel#886 2 2523 2880 MP886 920816181
    12/20/2009

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