Why Report your Greenhouse Gas Emissions

July 18, 2023

When establishing sustainability goals and net-zero emissions targets, it is important to take a step back and understand that you cannot take action to achieve these goals without knowing where you’re at, where you’re going, and what it will take to get you there. This is why greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reporting is so essential as we work to mitigate the impact of climate change and create a more sustainable economy. When it comes to emissions reduction goals, knowledge is power, and developing a complete, consistent, and accurate record of your GHG emissions year after year, will help you understand the progress you are making towards your sustainability goals. In addition, it can reveal what aspects of your operations are the biggest emitters, and how to best tackle those areas to stay on track with your goals.

According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s sixth assessment, human activities, principally through emissions of GHGs, have unequivocally caused warming of global surface temperatures. Human-caused climate change is a consequence of more than a century of net GHG emissions from energy and land use, lifestyle and patterns of consumption, and production¹. The Climate Registry (TCR) operates on our mission to connect, educate, and empower organizations with the resources to reduce GHG emissions in order to mitigate climate change. The core way we accomplish this is by supporting the GHG emissions reporting efforts of companies, governments, and organizations across North America.

GHG emissions reporting looks different for every organization. While some are reporting to satisfy mandatory reporting requirements, others are voluntarily reporting. Voluntary reporting can be undertaken to help achieve emissions reductions or overall sustainability goals, stay ahead of regulatory requirements that are on the horizon, demonstrate transparency of their environmental impact to their stakeholders and shareholders, and so much more. Mandatory reporting requirements are continuing to expand and as such, many more governments, companies, and organizations are being affected by them. These requirements typically capture direct emissions from operations and indirect emissions from energy purchases, known as Scope 1 and Scope 2 emissions, respectively. Organizations mandated to report can also include their Scope 3 emissions to gain a more comprehensive understanding of emissions from their supply chains. Whether your organization is reporting emissions due to mandatory requirements or voluntarily reporting, complete, consistent, and accurate data of your emissions is essential to helping you understand your progress towards reducing GHG emissions and achieving your sustainability goals.  

Benefits of Reporting your GHG Emissions

Solidify your commitment to sustainability
Many companies, organizations, and governments have released sustainability plans that establish a target for emissions reduction. This clearly demonstrates their commitment to reducing their impact on climate change and is a clear first step to making sustainability a core element of their operations. In order to demonstrate that these plans are being put into action, it is necessary to show the progress being made year after year. Reporting GHG emissions establishes benchmarks and helps you achieve milestones that enable your organization to track progress against internal commitments and industry peers.

Enhance reputation and credibility
Reporting your GHG emissions can help strengthen your organization’s reputation and credibility among customers, vendors, investors, constituents, and other stakeholders by actively and transparently responding to growing concerns related to climate change. Businesses are starting to be held accountable for their ESG (environmental, social, and governance) performance². Being able to demonstrate clearly that your organization is following through with its sustainability claims can create a positive perception of your organization’s commitment to these goals.

Identify risks and opportunities
As we begin to feel the effects of climate change more and more, it is essential to be able to identify the aspects of your organization that are most vulnerable to climate change. It is incredibly valuable to be able to leverage your GHG emissions data to target prominent risks and opportunities, which can be used to inform your organization’s broader sustainability strategy. Reporting your GHG emissions will help to give a better understanding of what areas of your operations might experience more risk, allowing you to work proactively to address those challenges and turn them into opportunities to improve your organization’s climate resilience. 

Position your organization ahead of regulations
Be at the forefront of entities responding to increased public and investor interest in GHG accountability by measuring, reporting, and third-party verifying your GHG emissions. Most of us are aware that there are new regulations popping up at all levels of government for companies to report their GHG emissions. At the federal level, the Securities and Exchange Commission has proposed a rule that would require disclosure of companies’ greenhouse gas emissions, along with requirements to disclose information about how climate-related risks will impact the business³. This is not the only regulation that is being proposed or implemented. Regulations at the state and local level have been in place for many years and have been increasing, demonstrating their efforts to advance non-federal climate actions in support of global climate agreements4.  

The Climate Registry Can Help

TCR’s Carbon Footprint Registry program gives members the tools and resources to report and track their greenhouse gas emissions. TCR provides guidelines for credible carbon reporting with five overarching accounting and reporting principles5 to ensure that GHG data represents a faithful, true, and fair account of an organization’s GHG emissions:

  1. Relevance: Ensure that the GHG inventory appropriately reflects an organization’s GHG emissions and serves the decision-making needs of users—both internal and external to the organization.
  2. Completeness: Account for and report all relevant GHG emissions and activities within the defined inventory boundary.
  3. Consistency: Use consistent methods to allow for meaningful comparisons of emissions over time. Clearly document any changes to the data, inventory boundary, methods, or any other relevant factors.
  4. Transparency: Demonstrate and report data in a factual and coherent manner, based on information that can be traced to its source. 
  5. Accuracy: Ensure that the quantification of GHG emissions demonstrates true emissions, and that uncertainties are reduced as much as practicable. Enable users of the data to make decisions with reasonable assurance of the integrity of the reported information.

Organizations from a wide variety of sectors – such as the California Department of Water Resources, Qualcomm, Common Spirit Health, Sierra Nevada Brewing Company, and Hewlett Foundation – are members of the Carbon Footprint Registry and are leading the way in greenhouse gas reporting. These organizations, as well as our other members, can use their data to analyze their operations and reduce carbon emissions, helping them make decisions to mitigate and adapt to the worst effects of climate change.

As a nonprofit organization, The Climate Registry strives to connect, educate, and empower organizations with the resources to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in order to mitigate climate change. We work to support organizations with both mandatory and voluntary emissions reporting by providing standardized accounting guidance for the measurement, tracking, and verification of greenhouse gas emissions. Now more than ever, as we continue to see the acceleration of climate impacts, GHG emissions reporting is a critical tool in your organization’s arsenal to fight climate change. 

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1 https://www.ipcc.ch/report/ar6/syr/downloads/report/IPCC_AR6_SYR_LongerReport.pdf

2 https://hbr.org/2019/05/the-investor-revolution

3 https://www.sec.gov/news/press-release/2022-46

4 https://crsreports.congress.gov/product/pdf/R/R46947

5 https://climatereg.wpengine.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/General-Reporting-ProtocolV3.pdf