Carbon reporting will get more scrutiny
Corporations and industries can expect greater scrutiny of their carbon footprints under changes U.S. EPA proposed to its mandatory greenhouse gas registry yesterday.
Beginning this year, companies must detail emissions from about 10,000 facilities representing some 85 percent of the nation's total carbon output, according to the greenhouse gas reporting regulation EPA completed in September.
Under the new proposal, these individual emitters -- from power plants and oil refiners to large manufacturers -- would have to include their U.S. parent company and an industry classification code in their annual reports. The change will inform sectorwide air pollution and climate strategies the agency is evaluating, the proposal notes.
Significantly, the new data will also help EPA aggregate corporate greenhouse gas emissions profiles and compare the performance of companies and facilities relative to their sectors, the draft rule says.
Because the reports will be public, the move would also ease the way for watchdog groups, investors and researchers to do the same.
Right now, "it's really difficult to figure out who really owns the emissions," said James Salo, strategy and research vice president for Trucost, a company that analyzes corporate carbon footprints for businesses in the Standard & Poor's 500 index and others.
In a comment letter last year, 57 independent researchers said they generally conduct fewer studies on corporate environmental performance because of the time it takes to correlate EPA reporting to their parent companies. In one example, a researcher spent six months matching up thousands of facilities to over 700 owners.
"This would be an added feature that would really strengthen public disclosure of information," Salo said.