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Mission

The mission and goals of the Climate Action and Accounting SIG includes "to turn this network into action under a common open source project that defines shared protocols, standards, and platform tools for a globally integrated climate accounting system to be operationalized."

This working group will focus particularly on the "protocols and standards" that will enable consistent climate accounting.  

Work plan for 2021

We coordinate most of the work for this working group through the biweekly Standards WG call. The workplan for the year is set out in this document. The most practical way to get involved is to join this call. Please check the calendar for the next call. 

The 2021 workplan involves four phases:


A. Conceptualisation of a DLT-enabled standardisation architecture to streamline Climate Action & Accounting.


B. Implementing the result of phase A in three different paradigms: as a relational database, as a Radix-Merkle tree (as is used by Hyperledger Sawtooth), and as a token-and-smart-contract network (possibly DAML).


C. Testing applicability to real-life use cases.


D. Reviewing the results from phase C and revisiting phases A-C as necessary.

Progress and opportunities to contribute

Some results from phase A is taking shape under New ideas, debates and discussions pages. Our first realisation is the climate action and accounting is a particular case of environmental accounting or, even broader of impact accounting in general (e.g. SDG-accounting). We described the basic structure of SDG accounting. We are in the process of elaborating the ontology, epistemology and semiology (i.e. the description of the things, event and agents that we account for, how we know about each and how that is represented. 

Please edit the wiki and contribute to out biweekly call

Clarification

What do we mean by 'standards'?

The term 'standard' is used in a variety of contexts. Even within the scope of the CA2SIG a variety of things are denoted with the term 'standard'. These include:

  • Technical standards like those of the W3C 

  • Accounting standards, including:

    • Greenhouse Gas Protocol  

    • the standards used for compl;iance purpises in different jurisdictions (e.g. by the UNFCCC (e.g. the CDM project standardCalifornia Air Resources Board (CARB))

    • voluntary standards like the Verra's Verified Carbon Standard (VCS), the Gold Standard , Social Carbon American Carbon Registry (ACR), and Climate Action Reserve (CAR), The Plan Vivo Foundation

    • standards for entity-level accounting within various scopes

    • standards for local/regional/national inventories

  • Environmental performance standards like those of the IFC

  • Standards related to products

  • Standards for accounting for policy impacts

What are standards used for?

  • Personal climate footprinting

  • Product/service footprinting

  • Entity accounting (scope 1, 2 and 3)

  • Regional accounting

  • Policy impact assessments

What will the working group deliver and who will use it?

There are other bodies that create the types of standards mentioned above. This working group will be more concerned with how such standards themselves and compliance to these standards are encoded and captured in a distrubuted ledger and how such representations can be used. 

What is standardised?

  • Entities: This is the problem of identity.  We mean the identity of people, organisations and things. It is needed to connect an unambiguous identifier to all the entities involved in the accounting process. In the case of businesses, this may be difficult because businesses may have complicated structures of ownership and control (see for example Chapter 3 of the GHG Protocol: Corporate Accounting Standard.

  • Agency: This is the problem of responsibility - how do we show and prove that an entity (be that a person or organisation) is responsible for a certain action or outcome
  • Activities and events: Agents do things that change certain things and states at some point in time

  • Counterfactuals: This is the problem of what would have happened if certain decisions had not been taken or certain actions had not been undertaken.  

What is the relationship between standards, authority and freedom in the context of the work of the CA2SIG?

The CA2SIG will not act as an authority that compels entities to engage in specific actions. 

The standards to be generated by this working group will enable agents to clearly communicate the implications of their actions. This will enable others to have a clear understanding of the state of affairs regarding the activities and states covered by the standards. 

How will we translate standards into software?

Find the most generic articulation of what a standard, method and transaction is and develop protobuffer examples of each

  • Namespaced Merkle tree 

  • Protobuf examples


Get Involved

This is an open source project. Anyone is welcome!

1) Start by subscribing to the Climate SIG mailing list for updates and meeting notifications.

2) Add your name to the active members list below.

3) Join the CA2SIG Standards WG calls that are held on every other Tuesday of the month at 7 AM US Pacific time (UTC-07:00 America/Los Angeles)Please check the calendar for the next call. 





Taxonomy of protocols, standards, methodologies and certifications

A. Technical Methodologies

These are "algorithms" for calculating carbon emissions:

  • Life Cycle Analysis (LCA) - this is the standard analytical method for calculating the carbon emissions of a product through its lifecycle.  OpenLCA is an open source life cycle analysis software.
  • Product Category Rules (PCR) - these rules define how life cycle analysis should be performed based on the type of product.  See this article for one example of the relationship between LCA, PCR, and EPD.

B. Accounting Standards

These are standards for calculating and disclosing carbon emissions.

General Standards

  • Environmental Product Declaration (EPD) - comprehensive disclosure of the full environmental impact of a product, where carbon footprint is just one variable.  This seems to be used more commonly in building and construction, for example for LEED certifications, but is referenced as a potential source for the Greenhouse Gas Protocol.  See an example of a construction material's EPD and an elevator's EPD.
  • Greenhouse Gas Protocol (GHG) - this is a comprehensive set of standards for measuring greenhouse gas emissions for a company or a product.  It is the base standard for many "carbon neutrality" certifications.
  • Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP) - these are voluntary disclosures that companies could make through a series of surveys.  They are used by large companies to disclose carbon emissions to the investor community.

Industry Specific Standards

  • Whole Building Lifecycle Assessment - specific to buildings and construction, these standards are used to calculate the carbon content of a building based on its construction and materials.  This is important because most of the carbon footprint of buildings is during the construction rather than the operation of the building.  Click here for more about embodied carbon.

Certifications based on Accounting standards

These are certifications based on accounting standards, such as the Greenhouse Gas Protocol:

  • Carbon Neutral - developed and owned by Natural Capital Partners, which has 20 years of experience and implemented this standard for 300 companies in 33 countries. 
  • PAS 2060 - developed by the British Standards Institute (BSI) as an open standard.
  • Climate Neutral - a new standard developed by entrepreneurs in the fashion industry and currently run by a nonprofit group.  Their goal is to make it easier for companies to take climate action and become carbon neutral.

C. Carbon Offsets

These are standards for carbon offsets and could in turn be divided into sub-categories:

Mandatory

Mandatory offsets are those based on international treaties such as the Kyoto Protocol or the Paris Agreement, or by government regulations such as those in the European Union or California.  (I'll leave this category to someone who has more expertise.)

Voluntary

Voluntary offsets are those purchased by companies and individuals to offset their emissions.  There are many standards that govern voluntary offsets – some of the best known ones include:

D. Renewable Energy Certificates

Some background information about Renewable Energy Certificates from PJM



Glossary and definitions


Meetings

All Hyperledger meetings are run covered by the following Antitrust Policy.

Meeting Agendas

Meeting Notes

Communication Channels

These are the mechanisms that this working group uses to communicate.

Mailing List

Chat Channel

Links to Ongoing Work


Links to Completed Work

Links to External Resources

Active Members


NameCompany
Christiaan PauwNova Institute
Alex Howard

Nova Institute

Tom Baumann

Climate Chain Coalition

Martin Wainstein

Yale Openlab

Si ChenOpen Source Strategies, Inc.
Sherwood MooreICANN
John BarassiOhvation
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26 Comments

  1. First attempt at identifying the questions whose answers will hopefully lead to the approprite formulation of the scope and mission

  2. Hi All,

    I'm attaching a 2010 document I co-authored for ISO about GHG standards. It is old but still helpful for helping to approach / organize the scope.

    Best, Tom

  3. Hi All,

    I'm attaching a 2009 presentation I gave to the United Engineering Foundation about GHG standards. It is also old (e.g. forecasts of GHG market size), but the parts on standards is still relevant.

    Best, Tom

  4. Hi All,

    Here's a link to a post I authored in ISO's magazine about nextgen standards for the post-Kyoto era (pp 42-45). It conveys many of the key points I explained in the report I did for the Blockchain Research Institute (attached).

    Best, Tom

  5. Hi All,

    The Transparency Partnership (formerly the Partnership on Mitigation and MRV) is an online knowledge hub with many relevant resources to assist with landscaping and developing taxonomies. In addition, ClimateTagger can also be helpful. Also attaching a report about taxonomies and ontologies for climate action.

    Best, Tom

  6. Following the regular SIG call yesterday, in the Standards WG breakout we discussed some relevant climate taxonomies and frameworks including:

    EU sustainable finance taxonomy:
    Excel = https://ec.europa.eu/info/files/sustainable-finance-teg-taxonomy-tools_en (focus on mitigation tabs)
    Technical report = https://ec.europa.eu/info/sites/info/files/business_economy_euro/banking_and_finance/documents/200309-sustainable-finance-teg-final-report-taxonomy_en.pdf
    Technical annex = https://ec.europa.eu/info/sites/info/files/business_economy_euro/banking_and_finance/documents/200309-sustainable-finance-teg-final-report-taxonomy-annexes_en.pdf

    As well as OECD report on common tabular reports for UNFCCC ETF on NDCs: https://www.oecd-ilibrary.org/environment/reporting-progress-towards-nationally-determined-contributions_a23de32d-en


    I consider the above as "top down" perspectives, and that MRV from the "bottom up" for specific projects, technologies, products - such as CDM project methodologies, among others - needs to merge together.

  7. The InterWork Alliance (www.interwork.org) launched a new sustainability/climate business WG on Sep 17. One item they are working on is a Carbon Emission Token Specification - https://github.com/InterWorkAlliance/TTF/tree/master/artifacts/token-templates/specifications/CET/latest

    1. Tom Baumann That github link is broken.  Would you mind checking it?

        1. Thanks, Tom Baumann.  I've been thinking about this and am putting it together under Emissions Tokens Network Project

  8. Related to the scope of the standards WG, recently I co-authored a paper together with experts from the Blockchain Lab at York University's Schulich School of Business titled "Towards Ontology and Blockchain Based Measurement, Reporting, and Verification For Climate Action" which is under review and posted at SSRN - https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=3717389

    1. Hi Tom.  Nice to speak with you again today.  Sorry but nothing comes up when I click on that link.

      1. Hi Si - if you Google the title the link and downloadable PDF should appear. Try this link -                      Download This Paper                                      

        Best, Tom

  9. I've attached the paper here also.

    Tom

    1. Got it.  Thanks!

  10. March 2020 - "Climate Change TimeLine: an ontology to tell the story so far"

    https://ieeexplore.ieee.org/stamp/stamp.jsp?arnumber=9055012

  11. One of the readings from Carbon Removal Academy was Microsoft's Carbon Removal Lessons from an Early Corporate Purchase In short, Microsoft is looking for 1. net negativity 2. scientific verification 3. avoidance of harm and clear standards ensuring that the carbon offset or removal is additional i.e. would not have been possible without the offset/project. For scientific verification Microsoft sought out ICROA approved standards, some of which are already listed in the wiki (I put in green): Clean Development Mechanism  Climate Action Reserve  Gold Standard  Joint Implementation  Verified Carbon Standard  American Carbon Registry  Emissions Reduction Fund of the Australian Government  UK Woodland Carbon Code. Tom Baumann maybe you have attached info on this, but I haven't seen it yet: How does an open source accounting system provide means to verify a carbon flow as certified and backed up by one of these entities?

  12. Christiaan Pauw- are you familiar with the work of the GBBC and their Global Standards Mapping Initiative? Link:  https://gbbcouncil.org/gsmi/gsmi-2/

  13. No, thanks. I will look into it

  14. Christiaan Pauw MA Howard   Sherwood Moore  - Marley Gray at Interwork Alliance shared this content w/ me on linkedin - seems freshly created https://interwork.org/interwork-alliance-issues-guidance-on-tokenization-standards-for-voluntary-ecological-market/ and content: 

    1. Thanks for flagging Alex Aruj ,this is really interesting.  Si Chen Dounia MarbouhMay also find this of interest related to the Voluntary Carbon Offset Directory Research Project that is being initiated under the Climate Research WG.... At the very least the players involved with putting this report together might be potential stakeholders we could engage for the research paper?

    2. Thanks. I will study this. We can discuss this on our next Standards WG call