ISO Greenhouse Gas Standards – Update June 2014
As I introduced in my previous blog post, ISO is revising its core standards for greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions quantification and validation/verification. The outcome of this process will affect the future of carbon management globally. ISO’s GHG quantification standards are aligned with the GHG Protocol and compatible with most GHG programs. ISO’s 14064-3 and ISO 14065 GHG standards are widely used for GHG verification and assurance – for example, for the accreditation of verification bodies for the European Union Emission Trading Scheme. This blog post is to share with you some new developments within ISO’s climate change activities.
But a disclosure is necessary first. I recently became chair of ISO’s climate change standards (specifically ISO TC207/SC7 on GHG management and related activities). Over the next 5 years I look forward to work with many new initiatives to expand the development and use of ISO GHG standards.
Standards under ISO TC207/SC7
Standard for organizational GHG emission inventories
Standard for project-level GHG emission quantification
Standard for verification of GHG inventories for organizations and projects
Accreditation of GHG validation and verification bodies
Competence requirements for GHG validation teams and verification teams
ISO TS 14067
Technical specification (TS) on carbon footprinting of products
ISO TR 14069
Guidance for the application of ISO 14064-1 (Technical Report)
When I started as an expert to ISO back in 2003, climate change standardization was a new area – and the community of experts was small. Now, the community has grown, with ISO’s GHG committee including representatives from 75 countries as well as 18 liaison organizations (e.g., UNFCCC, WRI, GHGMI, CDP). And yet, more experts are needed because more GHG standards are planned to meet market and stakeholder needs – for example a there is a new initiative on climate change adaptation standards.
At the moment, the ISO working groups are focusing on revising ISO’s core GHG standards on organizational inventories, offset projects, verification, and accreditation of verifiers (ISO 14064-1, ISO 14064-2, ISO 14064-3 and ISO 14065, respectively).
This work progressed most recently at the annual plenary meeting in Panama in May, where we resolved comments submitted by stakeholders and agreed on the scope of revisions going forward. We also established editing groups and roadmaps to produce ‘working papers’ on key issues, which will serve as input to our next meeting in Italy this November. You should expect working draft 1 of the revised standards to be distributed for your comments around December 2014.
At the Panama meeting, we established three ad hoc groups on key issues and future work items, such as research on the development of new standards. One of these groups will be supporting a new strategic planning process on ISO’s GHG standards. Another will study climate change adaptation towards potential development of a new standard. The work of these groups will be presented at a meeting in June 2015.
Following publication last year of ISO TS 14067 on product carbon footprinting (a “TS” is a Technical Specification rather than an International Standard), an ad hoc group was established to investigate potential revisions of the document. One option being considered is to define the scope of 14067 to focus only on quantification of product carbon footprints, and to address communication and verification requirements by other ISO standards. Such an approach would leverage the full potential of other ISO standards (e.g., ISO 14064-3 and ISO 14027 Environmental labels and declarations — Type III environmental declarations — Product Category Rule (PCR) development), as well as mitigate concerns related to potential Technical Barriers to Trade (WTO Annex 3) that concern some developing countries.
Another question at the Panama meeting was whether or not to start development of a new framework standard that would “bridge” the general requirements in ISO GHG standards (e.g., for organization, project, and product emission inventories) with the selection and development of GHG methodologies for specific applications. It would be intended to guide GHG methodology developers. Because the ISO 14064 standards do not provide guidance on developing GHG methodologies, in my opinion, this type of guidance is much needed and I am encouraged that Indonesia and Japan have offered to lead a joint initiative on the issue.
As low carbon development planning grows in importance, new GHG methodologies will increasingly be needed for assessing low carbon policies, programs, technologies, products, organizations, events and more. Along with this growth will be even more focus on higher quality GHG measurement, reporting and verification (MRV) for activities and at many levels (e.g. national GHG inventories, organizations, projects, products).
It is also important to recognize that the number of GHG methodology users will be much larger than the number of methodology developers. So there is also a need to guide users in how to select an appropriate and quality methodology that best fits their needs. So the new guidance on methodologies should include transparency requirements that will better support these users in selecting and applying methodologies.
Overview of ISO’s new high-level Climate Change Coordinating Committee
Developing countries are seeking resources to support low emission development strategies (LEDS). Specifically, developing countries are requesting capacity building support on ISO GHG standards. In response, ISO’s Technical Management Board (TMB) launched the high-level Climate Change Coordinating Committee (CCCC ) in January to:
- Conduct a review of existing ISO deliverables related to Climate Change in terms of:
- mitigation – reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions
- adaptation – adjusting to the effects of global warming
- Review and assess the needs of the relevant stakeholders for Climate Change standards, specially the needs of developing countries
- Identify gaps and provide advice and guidance on the development of ISO standards on Climate Change
- Develop proposals for future actions (road map) and possible further studies
- Identify and implement collaboration with the key international organizations on Climate Change (UNFCCC) with a view to collecting input, developing joint projects/initiatives, raising awareness and promoting participation of their respective stakeholders in international development and implementation
- Provide advice on the coordination with relevant organizations
- Submit a final report to the ISO/TMB by 31 December 2015
There are 12 members of the CCCC, and the leaders are the USA and China. The CCCC is scheduled to have regular web conferences and to meet in November 2014 to review progress of working groups.
Big moves ahead for ISO climate change standards
The next year will be very interesting and active for ISO’s community on GHG standards. With more standards being developed and more countries adopting ISO GHG standards, it’s never been a more important time to get involved in ISO GHG standards activities.
This July and August ISO’s NextGen Programme will host online events focusing on climate change to engage with “young leaders” (defined next) in the world of standards related to climate change. This event is open to young professionals who are 35 years of age or younger, have a formal qualification from a higher educational institution related to climate change, have 5 years of professional experience in the subject area, are not already involved in national or international standardization activities, and have demonstrated passion and vision for the subject area.
Back in January GHGMI established online standards working groups to help update the ISO GHG standards (ISO 14064-1, -2, -3 and ISO 14065). Approximately 100 experts joined and provided 100s of comments – many thanks to them for sharing their expertise. New members are welcome to join these online groups.
Feel free to contact me on any of the items above if you have questions or want to get involved.
GHGMI Co-Founder and Director of Strategic Solutions and Partnerships
Chair, ISO Climate Change Standards (ISO TC207/SC7)