Computer Science
Green Information and Communications Technology Strategies

 

Computer Science
Green Information and Communications Technology Strategies

Unit 4: Procurement and Management Support

Seminar: Compliance Audit

In this final section we cover the compliance audit. An audit is an evaluation of a person, organization, system, process, project, or product. Audits traditionally assessed financial systems, but can now be used for environmental performance with environmental audits.

National Carbon Offset Standard

The Australian Government introduced the National Carbon Offset Standard (NCOS), a voluntary policy proposal put forward by the Australian government’s Department of Climate Change on November 24, 2009. It came into effect on July 1, 2010, and Version 2 was released May 2, 2012.

Purpose

As stated on the NCOS page of the Australian Government website, NCOS is intended to ensure that consumers have confidence in the voluntary carbon offset market and the integrity of the carbon offset and carbon neutral products they purchase. It provides guidance to businesses who wish to make their organization carbon neutral or develop carbon-neutral products in Australia. The purchase and retirement of carbon offsets that NCOS advises are beyond or additional to those committed to by Australia’s national emissions reduction targets under the Kyoto Protocol.

The standard covers calculating the greenhouse gas emissions associated with an organization’s activities, product, or service. It also includes the general principles of acquisition and retirement of carbon offsets.

Legislative and Standards Base

The draft standard is based on

  1. ISO 14040: Environmental management – Life cycle assessment standard series
    • ISO 14040: Principles and framework
    • ISO 14041: Goal and scope definition and inventory analysis
    • ISO 14042: Life cycle impact assessment
    • ISO 14043: Life cycle interpretation
    • ISO 14048: Data documentation format
  2. ISO 14064.1: Greenhouse gases standard series
    • ISO 14064.1: Specification with guidance at the organization level for
      quantification and reporting of greenhouse gas emissions and removals
    • AS ISO 14064.2: Specification with guidance at the project level for
      quantification and reporting of greenhouse gas emission reductions and
      removal enhancements (ISO 14062-2:2006, MOD)
    • ISO 14064.3: Specification with guidance for the validation and verification of greenhouse gas assertions
  3. Greenhouse Gas Protocol A corporate accounting and reporting standard (revised edition)
  4. National Greenhouse and Energy Reporting Act 2007 (NGERA)
  5. National Greenhouse and Energy Reporting Regulations 2008 (NGER Regulations)
  6. National Greenhouse and Energy Reporting (Measurement) Amendment Determination 2011 (No.1) (NGER Determination)

Procedures for domestic offsets are based on the relevant procedures under the Greenhouse Friendly initiative. This is derived from the Clean Development Mechanism of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

Elements of the Standard

The standard comprises

  1. principles of carbon footprint calculation;
  2. organization calculation of greenhouse gas emissions;
  3. product or service calculation of greenhouse gas emissions;
  4. verification of carbon footprint calculations;
  5. eligible offset units and their retirement; and
  6. public disclosure.
Carbon Footprint Calculation Principles

The calculation of the carbon footprint is based on the principles in the Greenhouse Gas Protocol:

  1. Relevance: Ensure the greenhouse gas inventory of an organization, product, or service appropriately reflects the greenhouse gas emissions attributed to that organization, product, or service.
  2. Completeness: Account for and report all greenhouse gas emissions sources and activities within the defined boundary of the organization, product, or service. Disclose and justify any specific exclusions.
  3. Consistency: Use consistent methodologies to allow for meaningful comparisons of greenhouse gas emissions over time. Transparently document any changes to the data, boundary, methods, or any other relevant factors.
  4. Transparency: Address all relevant issues in a factual and coherent manner, based on a clear audit trail. Disclose any relevant assumptions, and make appropriate references to the calculation methodologies and data sources used.
  5. Accuracy: Ensure that the quantification of greenhouse gas emissions is systematically neither over nor under actual emissions, as far as can be judged, and that uncertainties are reduced as far as practicable. Achieve sufficient accuracy to enable users to make decisions with reasonable assurance as to the integrity of the reported information.
Carbon Footprint Calculation of an Organization

The steps for calculating the greenhouse gas emissions for an organization are designed to be consistent with the NGER Act.

The boundary of an organization defines the activities that an organization should include in its carbon footprint calculation. This includes all corporate group members and all facilities under the operational control of corporate group members.

Greenhouse Gas Emissions Sources

Scope 1 and Scope 2 emissions are defined as in the 1996 IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) Guidelines for National Greenhouse Inventories and used in Australia's National Greenhouse Accounts:

  • Scope 1  emissions sources:
    • the combustion of fuel for energy;
    • the extraction, production, flaring, processing and distribution of fossil fuels;
    • industrial processes where a mineral, chemical or metal product is formed using a chemical reaction that generates greenhouse gases as a by-product; and
    • waste disposal – in landfill, as management of wastewater, or from waste incineration.
  • Scope 2 emissions sources: activities that generate electricity, heating, cooling, or steam that is consumed by a facility but do not form part of the facility.
  • Scope 3 emissions are not defined in the draft standards and are not required to be included. Scope 3 emissions are indirect emissions caused by the organization, such as from business travel.
Greenhouse Gas Emissions Factors and Calculation Methodology
  1. Collect activity data relating to the greenhouse gas emissions sources within the boundary.
  2. Calculate the greenhouse gas emissions resulting from the sources using one of the options:
  • default emissions factors from the National Greenhouse Accounts (NGA) Factors (Department of Climate Change, 2008);
  • direct measurement using industry practices or standards for sampling or using continuous or periodic emissions monitoring.
  1. Apply the calculation to a specified period of time, such as 12 months.
  2. Assess the uncertainty of greenhouse gas emissions estimates.
Carbon Footprint Calculation of a Product or Service

The draft standard requires the use of life cycle analysis (LCA) in accordance with ISO 14040, reporting

  1. scope,
  2. system boundary,
  3. greenhouse gas emissions sources within the system boundary,
  4. greenhouse gas emissions factors and calculation methodology,
  5. inventory analysis,
  6. calculated greenhouse gas emissions attributable to each stage of the life cycle of the product or service.
Verification of Carbon Footprint Calculations

The draft standard cites the ISO 14064 series for verification and auditing, and requires independent verification and review an entity accredited under ISO 14065.

Carbon Offsetting

Eligible Offset Units

Units accepted for carbon offsetting are

  1. Australian carbon pollution permits,
  2. Certified Emissions Reductions (CERs) except long term (ICERs) and temporary (tCERs),
  3. Emission Reduction Units (ERUs), and
  4. Removal Units (RMUs).

Domestic abatement projects may also be applied.

Public Disclosure

A publicly available annual report is required, detailing total greenhouse gas emissions generated, records of abatement, and quantity and the type of credits purchased.

Public Statements

Organizations can make public statements, such as

“The greenhouse gas emissions generated from this product have been calculated and offset in accordance with the National Carbon Offset Standard”;

“We are committed to offsetting our carbon footprint consistent with the National Carbon Offset Standard”; and

“This offset meets the National Carbon Offset Standard.”

External Auditors for the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme

The Australian Government issued an External Audit Consultation Paper (October 2008) on the development of external auditor regulations and guidelines for the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme. Third-party assurance providers are to be accredited. The Greenhouse and Energy Data Officer will monitor compliance, with powers to review audits of emissions up to four years after its submission, except in the case of fraud, where the period would be unlimited.

Organizations with emissions of 125 kilotonnes of CO2e or more would be obliged to have their annual emissions report independently assured prior to submission.

It is likely that a multidisciplinary team with individuals from different professions, including ICT, would be appointed by the organization or the regulator. The team would include a lead auditor and technical staff with skills and experience in financial accounting/auditing, engineering, and science, including ICT.

The consultation paper points out that accreditation against ISO 14065-2007 is not directly suited to the needs of the NGER Act or the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme. However, ISO accreditation could support an individual who claims to be an external auditor.

GHG Protocol Corporate Standard

The GHG Protocol Corporate Standard provides guidance on the entire inventory development process. The standard covers GHG Accounting and Reporting Principles, Business Goals and Inventory Design, Setting Organizational Boundaries, Setting Operational Boundaries, Tracking Emissions Over Time, Identifying and Calculating GHG Emissions, Managing Inventory Quality, Accounting for GHG Reductions, Reporting GHG Emissions, Verification of GHG Emissions, and Setting GHG Targets.

The standard details the internal processes needed and preparing for an independent verifier (auditor). The information needed by an auditor is similar to that detailed in the Australian Draft National Carbon Offset Standard. This is information about the company activities, GHG emissions, and company structure, assurance processes, data used for calculating GHG emissions, and quality control procedures.

GHG Calculation Tools

GHG provide sector and industry-specific toolkits for calculating greenhouse gas emissions. No toolkit is provided for ICT-based industries, apart from semiconductor manufacture. However, a toolkit is provided for offices and the service sector and for use by small office-based organizations: Working 9 to 5 on Climate Change.

Environmental Claims for Ubiquitous Broadband

Three researchers from NTT1 have carried out an environmental impact assessment of fibre optic and wireless broadband, and claim CO2e emissions reduction of 46%t (wired) and 79% (wireless) per subscriber per year. ICT is assumed to reduce the environmental load by making the movement of people and things more efficient and replacing physical media, such as paper and compact discs, with online transmission. The researchers then calculated the energy consumed by the network to replace physical goods.

The researchers carried out their calculations for NTT’s B-FLET optical fiber service and FOMA mobile communication service (provided by NTT DoCoMo). The total reduction in CO2 emissions of all users in 2005 was calculated to be 3.14 million tons.

Evaluation Method

The amount of CO2 emitted in the acquisition of raw materials, manufacture, use, and disposal were calculated. Users were surveyed as to their use of the internet services. ICT services and actions were classified into nineteen categories, and their energy use evaluated.

Daily Internet usage time for the optic fibre service was estimated at 27.53 minutes per person per day and 36.54 minutes per person per day for the wireless service.

An example of the energy use estimates is a music-downloading service: The energy used by the data center holding the music, the network, and the terminal the user uses must be considered. The corresponding purchase of CDs at a retail store involves CO2 emissions from CD manufacture, distribution, and disposal, as well as the purchaser's trip to the store.

For wired services, it was information services, including government web pages and social networking, which were found to have the largest environmental savings, not e-commerce. 79% (120 kg CO2/year). For wireless service it was telephoning, videophoning, emailing, and accessing national and local government information which had the greatest effect. It should be noted that NTT included voice telephone calls as a broadband service, although it could be argued that a non-broadband, or even analogue phone service would give similar results.

Exercise

Try out some of the tools linked in this seminar for your home and/or business. Report on your findings and your level of satisfaction with the tool(s) in the General Discussion Forum. Share any useful links you find, also.

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1 Sawada, T., Origuchi, T., & Nishi, S. (2007). Environmental load reduction effects of ubiquitous broadband services, NTT Technical Review, 5(3), 25–30.

Last modified: Friday, 13 June 2014, 9:40 AM MDT
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