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Greenhouse gas accounting or carbon accounting is a framework of methods to measure and track how much greenhouse gas (GHG) an organization emits. It can also be used to track projects or actions to reduce emissions in sectors such as forestry or renewable energy. Corporations, cities and other groups use these techniques to help limit climate change. They typically set an emissions baseline, create targets for reducing emissions, and track progress towards them. This is often done to address social responsibility concerns, or meet legal requirements. GHG accounting enables them to calculate and report GHG emissions in a consistent and transparent manner.
These techniques can also help understand the impacts of specific products and services by quantifying their GHG emissions throughout their lifecycle. This can promote more environmentally-friendly purchasing decisions. GHG accounting methods can help investors better understand the climate risks of companies they invest in. Corporate and community net-zero goals are also aided by accurate accounting methods. There is some evidence that programs that require GHG accounting have the effect of lowering emissions.
GHG accounting can be done at different levels, from that of companies and cities up to the greenhouse gas inventories of entire nations. It is typically done using a combination of measurement, calculation, estimation, and reporting methods. There are several standards and guidelines for greenhouse gas accounting, including Greenhouse Gas Protocol and the ISO 14064 standard.
A variety of issues can affect the accuracy of self-reported GHG emissions. These drawbacks can affect public perceptions of progress on climate change. Accounting problems also affect the credibility of carbon offset projects in areas such as forest conservation. Methods are being developed to provide accuracy checks on self-reported data from companies and projects. Organizations like Climate Trace are now able to check reports against actual emissions via the use of satellite imagery and AI techniques.