Guest Blog by Charles Cannon, Manager, RMI
Companies are changing their approach to environmental reporting. Sustainability reports are no longer developed just to maintain a company’s “social license to operate.” Increasingly, investors, financial institutions, and customers are using environmental metrics to guide their investment and purchasing decisions.
As such, robust sustainability reporting is no longer a nice-to-have. With more than 1,000 companies (and half of the S&P 500) setting science-based targets, it is clear that the private sector has increased its focus on reducing, and even zeroing, corporate emissions. RMI is proud to have joined forces with SINAI Technologies to build the foundation for more robust, verifiable emissions tracking to support these efforts.
The Problem with Emissions Tracking
Today, companies have many choices to make as they calculate their scope 1, 2, and 3 emissions. The sheer number and variability of GHG accounting protocols and calculation methods available today leads to inconsistent reporting. And inconsistent or seemingly subjective reporting brings confusion and uncertainty to decarbonization plans—ultimately putting investment decisions in the gray zone.
Companies need new and standardized tools and methods to calculate their carbon footprint and identify decarbonization opportunities in their business operations. The most reliable way to identify and pursue reduction opportunities in scope 1, 2, and 3 emissions is to start from asset-level, primary data–—data collected directly from a plant or process. What’s more, low-carbon product declarations are more robust when they are based on this primary data, rather than less granular data such as regional emissions factors.
The Seed of a Solution
A new research partnership between RMI’s Climate Intelligence Program and SINAI Technologies aims to pave the way for companies to clearly understand their carbon footprint and the footprint of the products they make. RMI is a nonprofit that transforms global energy systems through market-driven solutions. Working with clients on the SINAI platform, RMI’s team of experts will provide straightforward guidance about which GHG calculation methods to use in steel and other industrial supply chains. This guidance, when integrated into the SINAI platform, will consistently translate operational data into annual carbon footprints and batch-by-batch low-carbon product declarations.
Alongside corporations, nonprofits are rising to the challenge of reducing noise in environmental reporting, holding consistency as a top priority. Some of the methods being tested in the SINAI platform have been developed by the Coalition on Materials Emissions Transparency (COMET), a partnership with UN Climate Change (UNFCCC), the Columbia Center on Sustainable Investment, the Payne Institute for Public Policy at the Colorado School of Mines, and RMI.
We’ve also adapted principles from the World Business Council for Sustainable Development’s Pathfinder Framework, which holds the shared mission of creating product-level scope 3 emissions transparency. In addition to efforts to provide better visibility into emissions across sectors, there is also a need to solve sector-specific reporting issues, as evidenced by RMI’s participation in the Net-Zero Steel Pathway Methodology Project, an effort that will inform the Science Based Targets Initiative’s guidance for steelmakers.
It Takes a Village
Developing best practices for supply chain transparency is a collaborative effort. Over the next few months, corporations on the SINAI platform can inform the next generation of environmental reporting. The findings from this research will be open-source, anonymized, and available for participants in all industrial supply chains to adopt in 2022. Through this research, RMI, SINAI, and pilot participants will develop closer connections across industrial supply chains, in turn clarifying how to better measure, manage, and reduce carbon emissions. For any questions about participating in ongoing pilots between RMI and SINAI, please contact RMI’s Charles Cannon or SINAI Technologies.