ISO 14064, a reference in carbon accounting

ISO 14064, a reference in carbon accounting

Companies have a crucial role to play in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and combating climate change. The ISO 14064 standard has become an essential tool for organizations wishing to make a concrete commitment to this approach. It provides them with a rigorous methodological framework for reducing their GHG emissions and contributing to a sustainable future. But how does it work? What are its objectives and benefits?

Matthieu Duault

Matthieu Duault

Climate Copywriter

Update :
6/3/2024
Publication:
21/2/2024

Accounting for greenhouse gas emissions has become a major concern for many companies, whether voluntarily, under pressure from stakeholders (especially customers and investors) or in response to new regulatory requirements such as the EU's CSRD.

Anyone who has already embarked on a carbon accounting project will be able to tell you. This is no mean feat, given the absence of any regulatory framework. Various standards have therefore been developed to help companies calculate their GHG emissions. One such standard is ISO 14 064.

ISO 14064: definition, context and objectives

ISO standards, for International Organization for Standardization, are a set of internationally-recognized standards harmonizing industrial and commercial practices throughout the world. They are currently used in 167 countries.

member countries of the international organization for standardization
ISO member countries

What is ISO 14064?

ISO 14064 is part of this set of standards, and aims to become one of the benchmark standards for calculating greenhouse gas emissions. Consisting of 3 parts, it details the entire data collection and processing process, enabling emissions generated by a company's various activities to be measured and emissions declarations to be checked.

Launched in 2006 and revised in 2018 and 2019, it is the result of the work of 175 international experts in collaboration with 19 organizations specializing in greenhouse gas emissions and their impact on climate change.

Context and challenges of greenhouse gas (GHG) management

Measuring GHG emissions has become a major environmental and economic challenge. Following the 2015 Paris Accords, the 195 signatory countries committed to limiting global warming to well below 2°C compared to the pre-industrial era.

These commitments imply a significant reduction in global greenhouse gas emissions. Companies, as the main emitters, obviously have their share of efforts to make. However, the first step in implementing an effective decarbonization plan is to measure the company's carbon footprint and identify its main emission sources, in order to determine the best levers for action.

This measurement must therefore be precise, standardized, analyzable and comparable. This has led to the creation of a number of standards, virtually all of which are now interoperable. Among the best known are Ademe's Bilan Carbone method, the GHG Protocol and ISO 14 064.

What are the objectives of ISO 14064?

The international standard ISO 14064 was created in 2006 in response to a specific problem. A group of ISO experts had noted that the numerous approaches to measuring the quantities of greenhouse gases emitted by companies and organizations internationally did not provide a clear, comparable and actionable view of the emission levels of each entity.

They therefore worked on this standard, setting themselves 4 objectives:

  • enhance the credibility and coherence of greenhouse gas emissions measurements through harmonized processes, transparency and control methods
  • identify the main risks associated with GHG emissions, as well as the levers for action and resources available to limit their impact
  • contribute to the implementation of comparable action plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions
  • facilitate trade in carbon quotas and credits by ensuring that the various parties involved have a common frame of reference

The 3 parts of ISO 14064

ISO 14064 is in fact made up of 3 standards aimed at different audiences. The aim is to ensure that the entire process of quantifying and managing GHG emissions is consistent, from measurement to control.

ISO 14064 - 1 - Specifications and guidelines for quantification and reporting of greenhouse gas emissions

The ISO 14064-1 standard is aimed at companies and organizations wishing to measure their carbon footprint.

It provides a list of information enabling effective measurement of the greenhouse gas emissions generated by its activities, in such a way that the declaration (i.e. the emissions report) can be used and audited. This methodology involves identifying both carbon sources and sinks, and provides guidance on how to measure the associated emissions.

Prior to this quantification, ISO 14064-1 requires the definition of the various perimeters to which GHG emissions will be associated:

  • organizational scope: which facilities are involved, from a practical and financial point of view
  • operational scope: which of the organization's activities will be taken into account in quantifying GHG emissions?

Once these perimeters have been established, ISO 14064-1 provides guidelines for quantifying the company's direct and indirect emissions, and methods for verifying the accuracy of the data submitted as part of the greenhouse gas emissions report.

The methodology set out in ISO 14064-1 follows the practices recommended by the Word Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) and the World Resources Institute (WRI).

ISO 14064 - 2 - Specifications and guidelines for the validation and verification of greenhouse gas assertions

The ISO 14064-2 standard is primarily aimed at GHG plan administrators and organizations with projects to reduce or eliminate greenhouse gas emissions, or to make a carbon contribution. For example, it applies to organizations that issue carbon credits, as well as to companies and organizations with decarbonization plans.

This sub-section of ISO 14064 details the methodology for quantifying, monitoring and reporting on projects to reduce or eliminate greenhouse gas emissions.

In particular, it assists project developers in the effective measurement of a reference scenario that quantifies the emissions reduced, avoided or sequestered once the project has been implemented.

 

ISO 14064 - 3 - Specifications and guidelines for the validation and verification of greenhouse gas emission reduction projects

The latter part of ISO 14064 is aimed primarily at third-party organizations responsible for validating and verifying emission reduction projects. It may also be of interest to companies wishing to check the conformity of their GHG plans at an early stage.

The ISO 14064-3 standard defines the requirements and methodologies for validating and verifying greenhouse gas emissions, reductions and removals.

Verification involves assessing the conformity of the data submitted. Validation assesses the assumptions, limitations and methods used in declaring the future results of carbon projects.

Particularly used in the context of carbon trading, ISO 14064-3 defines its methodology based on the 4 main principles of independent assessment:

  • impartiality
  • ethical behavior
  • unbiased presentation
  • conscientiousness

Going further in carbon measurement: Tools to complement 1406X standards

ISO standards have been added to ISO 14064, taking the measurement of carbon emissions a step further and providing a better framework for the quantification and verification of declarations.

How ISO 1406X series standards work
How ISO 1406X series standards work

The ISO 14067 standard

ISO 14067 - Greenhouse gases - Carbon footprint of products - Requirements and guidelines for quantification provides the keys to measuring a product's carbon footprint (CPE ) from the acquisition of raw materials to the end of its life. It is based on the principles of product life-cycle analysis (LCA), and takes into account GHG emissions and removals during this cycle.

The ISO 14065 standard

ISO 14065 - General principles and requirements for bodies performing validation and verification of environmental information, defines the criteria for accrediting independent GHG validation and verification bodies.

The ISO 14066 standard

ISO 14066 - Greenhouse gases - Competence requirements for greenhouse gas validation and verification teams is aimed directly at third-party verifiers responsible for validating and verifying GHG claims. It details the knowledge, skills and experience required to carry out these audits.

What are the concrete benefits of ISO 14064 certification?

ISO 14064 is a valuable tool for organizations wishing to improve their environmental management, reduce their GHG emissions and enhance their image and reputation.

Improved management of greenhouse gas emissions

ISO 14064 makes it easier to identify and quantify the various sources of GHG emissions linked to a company's activities.

This approach makes it easier to set up an action plan to reduce the company's carbon footprint, and to monitor and measure progress year after year.

It also enables us to better anticipate the risks and opportunities associated with climate change.

Finally, it's also an opportunity for the company to reduce certain costs by optimizing its consumption of energy and resources.

Enhancing credibility and transparency

A guarantee of seriousness and quality, ISO 14064 certification demonstrates the organization's commitment to the fight against climate change, and reinforces its credibility with customers, partners and investors.

The publication of reliable and transparent environmental declarations enables us to enter into a closer dialogue with our various stakeholders.

Access to green markets and financing

Many financial institutions now require companies to meet specific environmental criteria in order to access certain types of financing. Certain regulations, such as the European SFDR, are tending to standardize this approach.

The same applies to accessing certain public or private markets, which are increasingly taking environmental criteria into account in their decision-making processes. In such cases, ISO 14064 certification can be a major asset and a significant competitive advantage.

Image and reputation enhancement

The ISO 14064 standard is proof of a company's concrete commitment to sustainable development. It enables clear communication on the objectives the company has set itself.

At a time when customers are increasingly demanding and vigilant about environmental issues, the ISO 14064 standard is an effective solution fordispelling doubts about greenwashing and forging a relationship of trust with customers.

How to obtain ISO 14064 certification 

To obtain ISO 14064 certification, you need to work with a certification body that can support you throughout the process.

The certification process involves several key steps:

  • Management's commitment to setting up an emissions quantification process and allocating the necessary resources for this purpose
  • Development of a long-term GHG management strategy that takes into account the company's environmental objectives
  • Identification and quantification of carbon emission sources and sinks
  • Setting up a GHG emissions monitoring and reporting system
  • Validation and verification by an independent body

Conclusion

The ISO 14064 standard has become an essential tool for companies wishing to make a concrete commitment to the fight against climate change. The certification process, though rigorous, remains accessible to all companies that commit to it.

It is also a rigorous and internationally recognized system for quantifying greenhouse gas emissions, which, like the Bilan Carbone or GHG Protocol, enables companies to implement effective decarbonization plans.

Sources : 

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