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As individuals, we can help to reduce our carbon shoe size through simple methods at home, such as switching the use of incandescent light bulbs to compact florescent ones, or unplugging electronic appliances we use infrequently. As companies and organisations, however, what more can be done?

Not too long ago, Singapore went under the spotlight for leaving Asia’s biggest carbon footprint, according to reports from the World Wildlife Fund (WWF). She topped the list of carbon emitters per capita in the Asia-Pacific in 2010, and WWF said this was due to the nation’s high GDP per capita which fuelled consumption habits, with the corporate sector and construction industry being large contributors. To this, however, the Singapore National Environment Agency has responded that the country is greatly dependent on fossil fuels as its small size limits its ability to switch to alternative sources.

It’s not just Singapore

How do other larger countries in Asia Pacific fare, then? As a whole, the region is not doing too well. In a separate study conducted earlier this year by the United Nations and Asian Development Bank (ADB), it was found that Asia Pacific could triple its carbon emissions by 2050 if it continues its unsustainable use of resources. The study showed that Asia Pacific is currently the world’s largest and most inefficient resource user; in 2005 alone, Asia Pacific consumed around 32 billion tonnes of materials including biomass, fossil fuels, metals and industrial and construction materials. If this trend carries on, Asia Pacific will possibly use 80 billion tonnes of materials by 2050.

These studies are more than just numbers, however. They serve to remind us that the commitment to be socially responsible, and the investment in low-carbon technology and infrastructure is becomingly increasingly, if not ever, relevant. Consumers, customers and shareholders on a whole have also taken a greater interest in the environmental impacts of the everyday activities, products and services they use. Companies can therefore do better by doing more to meet environmental standards and to minimise environmental impacts. Implementing verification processes, for example, is one method companies can consider to help manage the GHG emission from their plants and suppliers.

Measuring and managing your carbon footprint

According to the Carbon Trust, measuring your carbon footprint can “have a positive impact on both the environment and business profitability”.

The full footprint of an organisation involves a wide range of emission sources - from direct use of fuels to indirect impacts, such as employee travel or emissions from other organisations within the supply chain.

A common way to establish the footprint is to group GHG emissions according to the level of control an organisation has over them. On this basis, there are three main types of GHG classification: direct emissions resulting from organisastion-controlled activities (e.g. emission of gases during operation; production and manufacture; running of a vehicle fleet); electricity usage emissions (e.g.
from lighting, heating, and powering of equipment); and indirect emissions from products and services the organisation does not directly control (e.g. a company that manufactures a product is indirectly responsible for the carbon emitted in the preparation and transport of the raw materials).

Producing a full footprint covering all three types of emissions can be complex, however; a current lack of consistency in methods for calculation and reporting also makes it difficult to compare published footprints.

Implementing ISO 14064

Developed by an International Working Group of 45 countries, with CSA acting as World Secretariat, the ISO 14064 Greenhouse Gas Standards are designed to help organisations and governments measure, report and verify GHG emissions in a robust and auditable manner.

ISO 14064 ensures the credibility, consistency, and transparency of GHG accounting and reporting; it facilitates the certification and trade of GHG emission reductions or removal enhancements, and the development and implementation of an organisation’s GHG management strategies and plans. Your company can also track performance and progress in the reduction of GHG emissions and/or increase in GHG removals.

Approved as a "good practice" in the industry, this international standard can give customers the assurance on validation and verification methods, and increase your investors’ confidence.

Looking forward

The ever-growing emissions of greenhouse gases are a huge driving force of climate change, and the escalating impacts are glaring. According to an article published on humanitarian news website AlertNet, scientists and environmental experts have urged the world to reduce current global emissions in our bid to avoid more dangerous impacts including more extreme weather and rising sea levels.

Implementing standards like the ISO 14069 can not only help prepare you for pending mandates and proposed cap and trade programs, but also achieve good results in your GHG, environmental stewardship and fulfill corporate social responsibility roles.