How will your methods protect our company’s bottom line, credit rating and credibility with federal agencies, investors, stakeholders and the public?
Your consultant should be familiar with ISO 14000-based frameworks and data handling methods and, should ideally be an ISO auditor. If not, the reports and disclosures they generate on your behalf will likely not meet the guidelines set out by regulatory agencies. Due diligence in this area is of utmost importance because it is your organization, not the consultant, that will bear the consequences of incorrect audit scope or unverified claims. Regulatory agencies are following United Nations guidance on acceptable protocols. All of the the U.N.-accepted protocols align with ISO.
Have you taken your own company through the process you are proposing to us? Are you carbon neutral? What initiatives are you a signatory to?
If a consultant or advisor claims expertise in sustainability measurement and reporting, they should have gone through the “measure, reduce, contribute” process themselves. If the company you are thinking of hiring does not report to U.N. frameworks, caveat emptor. Their reporting, third-party verification, and ratings should be publicly available for review.
How do I make sure that any carbon offsets we may buy are valid and high-quality?
Millions of carbon offsets from multiple registries have recently been cancelled because they were generated using outdated methodologies and are no longer valid. Carbon offsets are defined under the Dodd-Frank Act as securities that must be registered and traded through a licensed broker-dealer. Your sustainability consultant should know this and should be able to guide you toward a source of offsets that were generated using current methodologies, are listed on a U.N. -recognized registry, and include co-benefits that meet your needs
Which frameworks and benchmarking platforms should we report to?
After you’ve discussed your company’s needs with a consultant, they should be able to direct you toward the initiatives and frameworks that help you meet the goals you described (and not toward costly programs that don’t). They should know how each of these platforms interrelates with others and which goals and regulatory concerns they satisfy.
“What should our disclosures include to ensure the best possible terms when seeking financing? How do we maximize our performance when reporting to U.N. SDGs and other programs? What information, if omitted, could lead to unintended penalties in the marketplace?” Hire someone who can thoroughly answer these questions for you.
What protocols are your tools based in? What are the data sources? How often are they updated? What internal company information do we need to gather and what is the best way to present it?
Your organization’s assets and carbon footprint are unique. This means that great care must be taken to include all relevant data and to gather that data in a way that is in accordance with the requirements of the frameworks you report to. Claims that are questionable because supporting data is lacking or improperly sourced can lead to regulatory troubles, lost contracts, and damaged credibility. Your consultant should be using globally-accepted and transparent methods for determining your carbon audit boundaries.
How do you we improve our Scope 3 (supply chain) performance? Can you help us validate and develop Environmental Product Declarations (EPD)?
Your organization has an incentive to hire other companies that improve their ESG scores because that improvement travels up and down the value chain. An organization cannot claim Net Zero Emissions without a carbon neutral supply chain. This is a globally-accepted ISO definition. Companies that ignore ESG improvement and reporting will drag their clients down with regard to materially significant performance metrics and will lose contracts. The consultant you hire should understand how ESG improvement comes full-circle.