Geneva, 9 November 2021: Today, on the Industry Day at the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow, UK, the Carbon Transparency Partnership launched the Pathfinder Framework, a guidance for the calculation and exchange of product-level carbon emissions data across value chains. The Framework was developed jointly by 35 stakeholders from industry and the broader decarbonisation ecosystem, harnessing WBCSD’s role as co-convenor of the Greenhouse Gas Protocol.
The guidance enables companies to better understand carbon emissions on a granular level, improving business decision-making and helping them meet their net zero targets. This represents a first major milestone for the Partnership, which was founded earlier this year as a forum for stakeholders to jointly drive emissions transparency with the objective of increasing emissions accountability and ultimately accelerating decarbonisation.
The publication of the Framework comes against the backdrop of the recent launch of the WBCSD Business Manifesto for Climate Recovery and increasing pressures on companies to decarbonise - from consumers, customers, policy makers, regulators and standard setters, shareholders and investors alike. Accounting for and tracking greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, both within companies and their supply chains, is a key enabler for such decarbonisation. However, those aiming to tackle supply chain emissions in particular face a common challenge: access to sufficiently granular, accurate and verified primary data.
This challenge is the result of data accounting and access factors. Existing standards and methods leave significant room for interpretation and result in data inconsistency, impeding quality product life cycle emissions accounting. In addition, data sharing across companies is limited by complex value chains, data collection challenges and a lack of interoperability between IT solutions.
The Pathfinder Framework addresses the accounting part of this challenge, providing guidelines for the consistent calculation and exchange of product carbon emissions. It leverages existing standards and methods while prioritising the use of primary data.
“Collaboration across industries and value chains is an essential driving force to resolving the challenges surrounding emissions transparency. The Carbon Transparency Partnership is building an ecosystem of key stakeholders to foster such collaboration and empower businesses to accelerate towards net zero – an ambitious and exciting journey.” - Claire O’Neill, Senior Advisor at WBCSD
Focusing on data access, leading technology companies in this space including CircularTree, IBM, iPoint and SAP have further come together within the Partnership to collaborate on the development of a network infrastructure enabling cross-organisational data exchange. Supported by the tech-for-good organisation SINE Foundation, this group of visionary stakeholders has the common objective of enabling businesses to share their GHG emissions data in a verified and confidential manner across industries and value chains.
Their collaboration is underpinned by a commitment to jointly design and create an open and interoperable network (the Pathfinder Network), which is built on five crucial cornerstones: (i) data souvereignty for data owners and confidentiality of shared data, (ii) integrity of data received, (iii) scalability to global supply chain and product categories, (iv) equality among organisations using and shaping the network, and (v) openness to allow all businesses and industry-focused data exchange platforms to connect to ultimately form one interoperable network.
The Partnership was founded on the premise that data transparency is a challenge that cannot be addressed by individual actors, but rather requires collaboration across the entire ecosystem. These first outcomes are a testament to this belief and constitute important milestones on a system-transforming journey. All companies and organisations working in this space are encouraged to consider the role they can play and to ensure they prioritize the pursuit of a common approach.
„We believe that the decarbonization of our economy requires collaborative action. We strongly support the project’s vision of building an open and interoperable data network that leverages state of the art technology and governance to ensure data sovereignty and data integrity. As a neutral non-profit organization, we are very happy to support and to contribute in this ambitious endeavor.“ – SINE Foundation
“To decarbonize supply chains, we need to involve all supply chain actors and create transparency on supply chain emissions. CircularTree is proud to support the WBCSD.” – Gunther Walden, CEO and Founder of CircularTree
"IBM is proud to be part of this collaborative effort to design an open interoperable network to exchange the data needed to reduce product carbon emissions. The challenge is urgent and we believe open ecosystems, technology and innovation will be essential to lasting progress on sustainability." – Mark Foster, Senior Vice President, IBM Consulting
“To achieve the necessary innovation in sustainable product development and accelerate the transition to the circular economy, we need a completely different openness, speed, and transparency in how organizations cooperate. iPoint is excited to be able to support here to advance digitalization for sustainable change.” – Joerg Walden, CEO and Founder of iPoint
“Technology innovation is essential for us to accelerate solutions to complex sustainability challenges. We look forward to contributing to the Pathfinder Initiative and truly harnessing the power of data and collaboration to unlock the potential of sustainable supply chains across industries.” – Daniel Schmid, Chief Sustainability Officer of SAP
The original version of this article was first published on the WBCSD website.