Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Reporting - 'Its not just a cost'

Ontario's new GHG Reporting Regulation and Emerging Cap-and-Trade Program. This mouthful of a title was for a webinar presented today by the Delphi Group. It was a highly informative overview of where we are now, where we are headed, and the opportunities for corporate Canada.

Jim Whitestone, from Ontario’s Ministry of the Environment, began with an overview of the three regional Cap and Trade programs, the Western Climate Initiative (WCI), the Northeastern Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) and Midwestern Greenhouse Gas Reduction Accord (MGGRA).

A key precursor to cap and trade is accurate reporting of emissions. Ontario’s new regulations call for reporting of 2010 emissions in 2011 and annual reporting thereafter. Third party verification of emissions will be required starting with the 2011 emission reports. Ontario’s quantification methods are either an adaptation of WCI methods or US EPA methods. Smaller emitters of 10,000 to 25,000 tonnes are not required to report at this time. In an effort to keep things simple for reporters, Ontario continues to work with the federal government and other provinces to harmonize reporting requirements and methods where feasible.

Nancy Coulas, Director of Environmental Policy for Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters began by stating that ‘climate change is a key issue for our membership’. Using graphs she showed that although manufacturing has been growing, emissions have been growing at a slower pace, indicating that firms in this sector are reducing GHG emissions. Her key point was that we need to focus on practical outcomes that manufacturers can achieve while making a competitive rate of return on investment.

How does GHG reporting and management align with existing corporate priorities? That’s the question Jason Grove of the Delphi Group thinks that companies should be asking. He suggests that companies should aim to deliver value through GHG reporting, “it’s not just a cost”. “Who are your stakeholders? What are their interests? How can you realize value from meeting their needs and expectations?” Mr. Grove identified four stakeholder groups - regulators, internal stakeholders such as employees, investors (naming SRI funds as a relevant group here) and the public.

The message overall was that as we transition to a low carbon economy, successful companies will be those that focus on opportunities as well as costs.

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