ClimatePULSE – ISO 14064 for Clean Technologies and Carbon Markets

CC_logo_small.jpgThere is a growing recognition that investments in and adoption of clean technologies benefits both the environment. Clean technology industries also increase jobs, sales and exports of new products. This is the “double dividend” – improving the economy and the environment – innovating “win-win” solutions.
One of the challenges is the use of an “approved or standardized” approach to quantifying the carbon credits created by new technologies. There are many approaches being used, ranging from in-house engineering calculations to full life cycle analyses (LCA) and computer models. There are a few cases where new technologies can use existing GHG standards; unfortunately the numbers of these cases are too few in relation to the exponential growth of new technologies. The most commonly used standards are developed within a rigid and bureaucratic process – akin to “legal precedent in a court of law”. Standards should not only help to uphold the quality and credibility of technologies and carbon credits, standards should be designed to accommodate innovation and thereby increase the development and widespread adoption of new emission reduction technologies.

The International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO) has published the ISO 14064 series of GHG standards for quantifying GHG reductions and can be used both to verifying quality and to encourage innovation. ISO 14064 Part 2 is used to quantify GHG emission reductions, which can be verified as carbon credits. This ISO GHG standard is being used internationally by the Voluntary Carbon Standard (VCS), the Governments of Canada and Alberta (first jurisdiction in North America to have GHG regulations), as well as Greenhouse Gas Services, a joint venture of General Electric and AES Corporation (GGS).
Tom Baumann, CEO of ClimateCHECK, lead the development of ISO 14064 Part 2 while working at a clean technology fund investing in more than 140 clean technologies (over $1.2 billion total). The GHG emission reductions (carbon credits) for clean technologies can be determined by ISO 14064 Part 2 because it is a “process standard” – meaning the quantification requirements are flexible to accommodate different types of projects and technologies. As an International Standard, ISO 14064 Part 2 is “policy neutral” and “program neutral” so that it facilitates trade – in this regard, ISO standards are referenced by and incorporated into international trade agreements. This attribute of ISO standards can help to link major economies such as US, China, India and Europe in the trade of clean technologies and carbon credits.
Some of the main GHG accounting concepts needed to successfully determine the GHG benefits of new technologies include “functional equivalence” and modular design of the GHG accounting process. Functional equivalence is a concept borrowed from LCA to ensure the functions (i.e. goods and/or services) provided are equal between the two systems (or two technologies) being compared (e.g. a project and a reference baseline). The ISO 14064 GHG standard forms a modular framework to which “specific quantification methods” for sectors and new technologies are incorporated corresponding to each “unit process” (i.e. physical accounting unit, also called a GHG emission “source”, a “sink” that removes CO2 from the air, or a “reservoir” for “carbon capture and storage”. This approach for accounting sources, sinks and reservoirs differs from other approaches that “establish the boundaries” and account for emissions inside.
To achieve the desired outcome of “a ton is a ton”, the ISO 14064 approach is aligned with the “GHG generally accepted accounting principles”, prescribed into ISO 14064 Part 2 as well as the WRI/WBCSD GHG Protocol for Project Accounting. The GGS sector methodologies are a good example of “ISO-hybridized” standards that balance technical rigor and flexibility in the methodology. The main add-on to the usual requirements for quantifying GHG emission reductions of new technologies are “test plans and procedures” , and generally the involvement of a few more technical experts to validate technical performance. A good example of this type of work is done at the Southern Research Institute, operators of the GHG Technology Verification Center.
The benefit of ISO 14064 Part 2 to clean technology stakeholders (e.g. suppliers, investors, buyers) is the higher level of certainty about the potential carbon credits due to emission reductions associated with future deployment in the marketplace. As potential carbon credits are monetized into an additional revenue stream for the valuation of new clean technologies, not only is there a boost to technology developers, but also international markets. With carbon benefits internalized, the “double-dividend” will accelerate innovation and the spread of clean technologies, thereby becoming a greater part international effort to manage climate change.

5 responses

  1. This is a monumental development and one that is very needed in the field. Kudos to Climate Check for helping to develop this new standard. Are there any training sessions, educational workshops, or other teaching documents available to spread this knowledge?

  2. Hi Shannon, the GHG Management Institute ( offers online e-learning courses at very competitive prices (not to mention no costs or emissions associated with not needing to travel). ClimateCHECK developed the project accounting course, based on ISO 14064 Part 2, the WRI-WBCSD GHG Protocol for Projects, and the Voluntary Carbon Standard (VCS). ClimateCHECK is currently developing a GHG verification course (to be launched this summer) that complements the GHG accounting course.

  3. Tom:
    I curious as to the development of LCA toolsets, as they have been in place (in rudimentary) form for some time; product stewardship and Responsible Care initiatives, and other environmental risk management programs come to mind.
    What kind of R&D or thought leadership is occuring in this space? I have seen plenty of “LCA Lite” applications in consumer products, supply chain mgt, and PLM; all for more qualitative and screening purposes. Is ISO 14064 (or other protocol) investing / advancing methodologies for LCA?

  4. Hello Scott,
    Apologies for the delay in responding – I am a new blogger and not in the routine yet.
    There is considerable work/thought leadership to develop and apply LCA techniques and tools to GHGs.
    You may be aware of the work being done by the Carbon Disclosure Project on supply chain GHG emissions ( As well, There are also various sector specific LCA GHG models in place – solid waste, transportation, buildings, mining, energy cycles, etc.
    The UK CarbonTrust is also working to develop a methodology. I believe there are also proposals to develop a new ISO GHG standard for products.
    In addition, the State of California has done full fuel cycle LCA GHG assessments recently. The Australia Greenhouse Friendly programme also is based on LCA.
    Hope that helps. I’ll try my best to respond faster next time.

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