Driving consistency in the greenhouse gas accounting system

A pathway to harmonized standards for steel, cement, and concrete

Executive Summary

While often overlooked, greenhouse gas accounting standards play a critical role in the energy transition. These standards can enable companies to differentiate their products on the basis of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, allowing them to capture value from investing in decarbonization. They also serve as an important enabler for green procurement from both the private and public sectors, driving demand for low-emission products.

Despite the critical role they play, current greenhouse gas accounting standards for steel, cement, and concrete fail to generate consistency in reporting due to gaps in existing standards or to inconsistencies across coexisting accounting frameworks.

To accelerate the development of harmonized greenhouse gas accounting at a global level, the Secretariat of the Clean Energy Ministerial’s Industrial Deep Decarbonization Initiative (IDDI), hosted by UNIDO, has identified the primary drivers of variance in emissions reporting for steel, cement, and concrete and proposed guidance to drive greater consistency.

To provide a common basis for adjudicating disagreements in standards, this report proposes a set of common principles derived from the Greenhouse Gas Protocol and the International Energy Agency’s work. These principles can serve as north star objectives for a harmonized greenhouse gas accounting system.

While driving towards consensus on these issues represents progress, it will be essential to move from guidance to implementation in the major ISO and EN standards to drive meaningful change.

Driving revisions to ISO and EN standards is an inherently complex process that requires engagement from and alignment with multiple stakeholders including national governments, national standards bodies, industry groups, and reporting organizations to build consensus on key issues.

Given the complexity of this task, the IDDI Secretariat proposes interim implementation efforts that focus on revising the product category rules that govern reporting for steel and concrete construction products. Nevertheless, the guidance provided in this document is broadly relevant for non-construction steel as well.

While the scope of this publication is limited to steel, cement, and concrete given the IDDI’s focus on public procurement and the outsize impact of government purchasing in these sectors, the principles-based approach introduced here may serve as a model for efforts to harmonize GHG accounting in other industrial sectors. Any efforts to extend this approach would require extensive engagement with relevant stakeholders.

Read the related Guidance.

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