A Standard for Measuring and Disclosing Financed Emissions

Guidehouse supported the Partnership for Carbon Accounting Financials in the Development of The Global GHG Accounting and Reporting Standard for the Financial Industry

Challenge

The Partnership for Carbon Accounting Financials (PCAF) is an international industry-led initiative enabling financial institutions to measure and disclose greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions of loans and investments. Measuring the financed emissions of a portfolio is the foundation enabling financial institutions to perform scenario analysis, set targets, inform actions, and disclose progress, which are crucial for portfolio alignment and decarbonization. However, without a globally accepted standard for the measurement and disclosure of financed emissions, progress was limited.

Solution

Guidehouse, which serves as the Secretariat of PCAF, provided technical support to PCAF in the development and implementation of The Global GHG Accounting and Reporting Standard for the Financial Industry.

The standard was launched in late 2020 in response to industry demand for a universal, standardized GHG accounting and reporting approach. Widely tested by banks and investors, the methodology provides detailed guidance for six asset classes to calculate the financed emissions resulting from activities in the real economy that are financed through lending and investment portfolios. These include:

  • Listed equity and corporate bonds
  • Business loans and unlisted equity
  • Project finance
  • Commercial real estate
  • Mortgages
  • Motor vehicle loans

Emissions are attributed to financial institutions based on robust, consistent accounting rules specific to each asset class.

The standard also provides guidance on data quality scoring per asset class, facilitating data transparency and encouraging improvements to data quality in the medium and long term. Recommendations and requirements for disclosures are available and include a minimum disclosure threshold with flexibility to report beyond this level.

To develop the standard, Guidehouse collaborated with a core team of 16 leading financial institutions, including Morgan Stanley, Bank of America, Amalgamated Banks, and others. Throughout the development process (October 2019-November 2020), Guidehouse also helped PCAF engage with civil society organizations to consider their ideas, discuss methodological approaches, and receive feedback. During August and September 2020, Guidehouse facilitated a public consultation with financial institutions, policy makers, data providers, consultants, and NGOs.

More than 200 stakeholders were reached via targeted webinars in English, Spanish, and Mandarin, and 50 stakeholders provided direct feedback to the standard.

The standard has also been reviewed by the GHG Protocol and is in conformance with the requirements set forth in the Corporate Value Chain (Scope 3) Accounting and Reporting Standard, for Category 15 investment activities.

Impact

By following the standard’s methodologies, financial institutions globally can now measure GHG emissions and produce disclosures that are consistent, comparable, reliable, and clear. Since the standard was launched, financial institutions like NatWest, Lloyd’s Banking Group, and others have used the standard and published their financed emissions within 7 months of joining PCAF.

Uptake of the standard has been global, and is being implemented in five regions: Africa, Asia-Pacific, Europe, Latin America, and North America. Each region has regional implementation teams with a clear governance structure that feed into the refinement of the standard.

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