"Green PR" in action: data on greenhouse emissions do not converge yet

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GAAP.RU 13 January 2022 15:38

Against the background of the transition of the world economy to low-carbon principles, companies rushed to fulfill (or pretend to do it) in everything own guidelines for achieving carbon neutrality. However, as researchers from the UK, Ireland and Germany found out, even at the basic level, they still do not always have a clear understanding of all the nuances of estimating greenhouse emissions, so the figures simply do not converge. According to the Financial Post, on the basis of checking corporate emissions data for a ten-year period, numerous examples of errors, discrepancies, data omissions and simply rough rounding (and often downwards) were found.

As you know, many companies voluntarily submit emission reports under the international environmental initiative Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP).But for many, it turns out that this is nothing more than "green PR" if the results of the study demonstrate that almost a third (30%) of representatives of various industries have data in any year chosen for consideration that differ significantly in at least one of the five categories (general data on emissions are divided into several categories - by region, by types of greenhouse gases, by business areas, etc.).

“These companies pretend to care about the environment, but they are not even able to add up the data”" says Andreas Hoepner, professor at the Michael Smurfit Graduate Business School at University College Dublin, who also participated in the work on the study. –This suggests that their carbon neutrality goals are nothing more than a PR campaign.”

The study covered a fairly extensive amount of data on direct and indirect emissionsScope 1-2 for the period from 2010 to 2019. Maybe this will not cause much surprise (because such an outcome was worth waiting for), but in fact the most serious violations in carbon reporting were committed by those organizations that cause the most environmental harm to nature today with their activities. 39% of oil and gas companies reflect distorted data in at least one of these categories. In 2015, more than half of all emissions data from representatives of this industry contained anomalies. The most serious discrepancies were found in the statements of Exxon Mobil Corp. (USA) and Imperial Oil (Canada).

For example, according to the study, Exxon showed in 2016 the total emissions of the Scope of 1 per 120 million tons of CO2 equivalent, but after categorization and the simplest addition operation, it turned out that in reality the total volume is already 128 tons. However, the company's representatives later justified that it was all about the types of greenhouse gases - they say that CO2, methane and other types of gases were taken into account as part of the total emissions, but methane and other types were already taken into account by an affiliated organization, and therefore they decided not to double-count them, besides, the fact of this was reflected in the notes to the reports submitted to the CDP.

At the same time, mathematical accuracy is becoming more and more relevant in many countries. In the US, we recall that the Securities and Exchange Commission is preparing already this year - perhaps even next month - to launch mandatory carbon reporting for exchange companies.