City-level carbon accounting standard released

22 July 2014

London shows leadership in transparent reporting

BSI, the business standards company published a new specification at the end of 2013 to help city decision makers take a more holistic approach to assessing and measuring the impact of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. PAS 2070 - Specification for the assessment of greenhouse gas emissions of a city - was sponsored by Greater London Authority and provides a transparent methodology for the consistent, comparable and relevant quantification, attribution and reporting of GHG impacts at an urban level.

Making cities more sustainable is one of the most vital challenges of modern times, especially as they exert a significant impact on the environmental status quo. Therefore a greater emphasis placed on measurement of emissions and access gained to good quality data on GHG emissions, is crucial. PAS 2070 enables city decision makers to clearly identify emission sources and their drivers, reduce the carbon dependence of their economy, and stimulate opportunities for more efficient urban supply chains. 

In order to assist users and provide clarity on specific technical aspects of PAS 2070, a London city case study has been published. The London case study, which has been nominated for a Siemens C40 award, includes guidance on data collection, quantifying emissions, and provides a template for reporting. 

David Fatscher Head of Market Development for Sustainability at BSI said: “PAS 2070 adds a new, community-focused dimension to BSI’s expanding family of standards on greenhouse gas management. The standard provides a robust framework which encourages best practice carbon management of urban areas. Those implementing PAS 2070 will gain a clearer understanding about how their city generates emissions and will therefore be better placed to assess risks and opportunities.”

PAS 2070 gives requirements for assessing GHG emissions from two sources: 

  • Direct emissions from within the city boundary - the direct plus supply chain (DPSC) methodology which focuses on activities such as energy use by homes and businesses located in a city; transport serving them; and the provision of resources and services to the city
  • Indirect emissions from goods and services produced outside the city boundary and consumed within the city boundary - the consumption-based (CB) methodology focuses solely on economic final consumption activities from households, governments and business capital investments located within the boundary

Each city has a responsibility to its track its output. Since 2004 London has been providing an annual inventory of its GHG emissions to support Mayor of London’s Climate Change Mitigation and Energy Strategy. To further highlight the importance of accurate reporting a London case study was conducted to give a more complete assessment of London’s GHG emissions. Crucially, the case study resulted in amendments being made to PAS 2070 to further enhance it. The principal changes are:

  • An option to use the version of IPCC Guidelines used by the country's inventory reporting body - Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change
  • Where full data is not available, the use of notation keys and explanation is required
  • Transport model requirement has been changed to a recommendation to avoid unnecessary limitation

Some of the organizations involved in the development of PAS 2070 included global experts such as: ADAS UK Ltd, BioRegional Development Group, Blonk Milieu Advies, C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group, City of New York, Greater London Authority, ICLEI Local Governments for Sustainability, London Sustainable Development Commission, Stockholm Environment Institute, Thames Water, Transport for London, University of Colorado Denver, University of Southampton, University of Toronto and WSP Group.

For a free download of PAS 2070 click here