Three Challenges in Carbon Reporting and How To Deal With Them By Stefania Chica-Jacome

There is an increasing interest in carbon reporting, whatever the industry you might be in. Whether it is to comply with regulations, to improve your brand reputation or simply because it is the right thing to do.

There is now an expectation for businesses to understand their own carbon impacts and to do something to minimize them.

If you are calculating the carbon emissions of your business, you might have realised already that this process does not come without challenges. So, here is a bit of guidance on what you can do to overcome some of them:

1. Data availability

One of the first challenges you are going to face is the lack of available data. A carbon foot printing exercise will require lots of information from the overall operations of your company, such as: business travel, use of fuels for different activities, electricity and water consumption, waste generation and disposal, purchased goods and services… you get the idea.

The question here is: where and how easily can this be obtained? Unfortunately, this wealth of data is unlikely to be found in one single place and in most cases is scattered around several offices and departments

What can you do?

Give yourself a minute (or many, many more!) to identify the possible sources of this information. For instance: your Financial and HR departments might have records on company transport in the form of mileage data from trackers and company fuel cards. Your electricity and water bills can give you insights on your company’s consumption patterns; and your waste invoices will contain details on your waste production.

This is a good first step in the data collection process as it gives you a clear idea on where to look for this information and who else should be involved in this journey.

2. Time constraints

To complicate things even further, I am almost sure you have been given a short deadline for this assignment. You now have a considerable amount of data to collect, but the clock is ticking down.

What can you do?

Communication and collaboration are key. As data is likely to come from several people, make sure to involve them as early as possible, this will help you distribute the responsibility among other members of the team and it will speed things up.

Remember that it’s not only the what, but also the why what matters. It is important to explain what kind of information is needed from them and why this is relevant. Understanding the importance of calculating your carbon impact is crucial in gaining collaboration from colleagues.

3. Carbon Calculations

The job is not over yet, once your data is ready you will need to start with the carbon calculations – this might be an issue if Excel is your worst nightmare, or if you don’t know where to find reliable and updated conversion factors.

What can you do?

Technology is your friend so make use of existing tools designed to aid with these calculations. The Carbon Calculator of the Supply Chain Sustainability School, makes it simple to assess your carbon emissions. The system undertakes these calculations automatically based on the activity data that you provide, saving you time, effort, money… and sanity!

You can register for the Carbon Calculator here, and get all the guidance you need at the Supply Chain Sustainability School.

For more information

Stefania Chica-Jácome
Consultant Researcher

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