Companies Look to Take the Fun Out of Emissions Reporting

Jamie Wilkie
Courtesy of IMDB

Sustainability reporting was, until recently, a wild west of conflicting methodologies and reporting standards. With investors demanding more reliable sustainability metrics to guide investment decisions, companies have struggled to determine how to deliver those numbers and how to calculate them. 

In response, many organizations are turning to time-tested fun sponges for standards and controls — accounting professionals.

What’s happening: The US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is working on new rules to standardize emissions data requirements for American publicly traded companies, expected to come into effect in 2023.

Regardless of the final rules — and there remains a lot of disagreement — some of the data will need to be audited to the same standards as financial information in company reports.

…and that can mean only one thing…

Send in the *shudder* accountants

While not always the life of the party at dinner parties, accountants are the life of the party when it comes to consistently reporting really important numbers. And that is what’s required right now: companies are already assigning some of their best accountants to the task of the new field of carbon accounting to meet anticipated SEC rules.

Not everyone sees the SEC rules the same: US oil and gas producer EOG Resources updated its annual regulatory filing to say climate change “may result in negative perceptions of the oil and gas industry”.

Bottom line: Expect to see a few less pistols and a few more pocket protectors in the wild west of emissions reporting in coming years.