Firms seek clarity on reduction of greenhouse gas emissions


May 10, 2002

An industry survey shows that firms are seeking clarity about how to demonstrate reduction of emissions of the 'greenhouse gases' blamed for global warming.

The research - carried out for BSI, the global leader in standards, quality assurance and management system registration - follows last month's launch in the UK of the world's first national market for trading greenhouse gas allowances.

Since organisations will be effectively charged for their greenhouse gas emissions, this new market, where 'carbon credits' for emission reductions are traded through specialist energy brokers, is seen as an efficient way for firms to gain financial rewards through limiting their carbon emissions under international agreements.

But against this background, the firms polled by BSI - in industries like manufacturing, chemicals, mining, construction, water and power supply - say they need more guidance on these issues.

To meet this need, BSI is staging a seminar in spring 2003 to improve understanding, and will be launching a service enabling organisations to verify their ability to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases, and so be able to trade carbon credits and show environmental responsibility. Please note: this service was launched in August 2002

Mark Barthel, BSI's head of sustainability, said: "Third-party greenhouse gas verification represents a major step forward in environmental and financial policy thinking. Any verification service provider needs to have a solid understanding of environmental processes as well as the financial implications of the outputs of that process.

"Our research shows that there is still considerable confusion amongst potential buyers of a verification service as to how that service should be delivered, who it should be delivered by and how it should be reported. We are working with existing and new BSI clients to help resolve some of these issues. This period of development is essential and when we launch a verification service it will be well structured and designed to meet identified client needs and external policy requirements," Mark Barthel added.

The survey showed that the majority of respondents believed that they had an understanding of climate change levy issues and most had an understanding of the UK 'Emissions Trading Scheme'. However, few respondents reported that they were currently using a third party to monitor their green house gas emissions. 

Nick Moy, managing director of BSI Management Systems, said: "Green house gas issues have been slowly climbing up the environmental policy agenda at the same time that environmental policy issues have been climbing up the wider corporate agenda.

"Many companies adopt a supportive stance on environmental issues perhaps building an environmental management system in accordance with ISO 14001. However financial, legislative and market pressures are probably still the key factors driving the corporate environmental agenda. Only recently have green house gas issues been linked to financial and legislative instruments."

Indeed the BSI survey backs up this view revealing that the four key factors driving adoption of a third party green house gas verification service were legislation, environmental policy, emissions trading and economic gains.

Although the legislative and economic policy arena remains cloudy at this stage Mark Barthel believes that a large body of organisations will ultimately make use of third-party greenhouse gas verification services.

Mark Barthel said: "Green house gas issues are emotive and organisations will want to communicate with their customers, shareholders and employees on progress in minimising emission levels.

"Some companies are already attributing financial value to carbon and managing it as they would any other asset. However, for many others these new carbon markets are complex and breaking new ground. They will require help. BSI will therefore be launching a well researched mutli-disciplinary verification service that will be both environmentally and financially capable."

If you would like to attend the seminar in spring 2003, please call BSI Business Solutions on +44 (0)20 8996 7055.  


Wilma Tulloch on +44 (0)20 8996 6330 OR
Marc Edney on +44 (0)20 8996 6330