You can’t manage what you can’t measure

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Photo by Arnaud Mesureur on Unsplash
Clare Kelly
by Clare Kelly
28 January 2020

Research shows that neither consumers, corporates nor financial institutions are aware of the actual embodied emissions in the products they buy, produce and invest in. 

While several measurement methods exist, none use a verifiable and widely accepted emissions reporting framework, and thus they cannot create meaningful change.

Without adequate insight into emissions it’s impossible for companies to meet sustainability targets and it’s impossible for consumers to make smarter choices or hold these companies accountable.

To address this the Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI) has launched a new alliance, COMET (the Coalition on Materials Emissions Transparency), with a goal to create a universal greenhouse gas (GHG) calculation framework for the mineral and industrial supply chains.

Catching a comet: Unlocking supply chain decarbonization.  White text on an image of an engineer soldering machinery
Image from The Rocky Mountain Institute

“We all know that you can’t manage what you can’t measure,” said Paolo Natali, director of the Materials Initiative at Rocky Mountain Institute. “Until people know the climate impact of the products they’re using, it will be impossible for them to demand lower-carbon goods, and it will be impossible to decarbonize the industrial sectors that are responsible for 40 per cent of annual greenhouse gas emissions.”

What will COMET do?

COMET will work with financiers, producers, and buyers to go boldly where no carbon transparency platform has gone before. Their framework will provide a foundation for integrating environmental reporting metrics and will help enhance existing initiatives for sustainable production  –  making GHG disclosure comparable, reliable, and widely accepted.

“Our ultimate goal is transparency of climate impacts across the supply chain,” said Suzanne Greene, program manager for MIT Sustainable Supply Chains. “An emissions calculation method for mineral and industrial supply chains is an important first step for consumers and investors to understand and drive the decarbonization of the goods we use every day.”The COMET Method will provide an important first step in decarbonising industries and giving insight into CO2 emissions from the production of key materials like steel, copper, and cement.

In December 2014, Carbon War Room (which was co-founded in 2009 by Richard Branson and a team of like-minded entrepreneurs wanting to speed up the adoption of market-based solutions to climate change) merged with the Rocky Mountain Institute – a US-based NGO, dedicated to transforming global energy use to create a clean, prosperous, and secure low-carbon future. Together, they work across all energy sectors to accelerate the energy transition and reduce carbon emissions.