The increasing pace of climate change, and its myriad associated costs and risks, have catalyzed policy development and investor awareness and highlighted an urgent need for climate-focused action. Growing demand for more accurate carbon emissions data and greater transparency around climate-related risks and opportunities has ushered in a moment of truth.
Announcements of intention have thus far outpaced decisive action. Firms around the world have drafted and shared strategies to address investor pressure and align with net-zero policies, but only a few have defined an approach that can truly deliver on their stated goals. The best approaches must include effective data management, accurate workflows, analytics capabilities and specific disclosure scope.
To close the gap between intent and action and create a viable path for continued improvement, companies need to implement an ESG and sustainability software solution. Such a solution will help them manage the scope and complexity of these efforts and take effective action.
To make options and key decision factors in this space clearer, Verdantix recently published their latest Green Quadrant Report. The report’s focus is the efficacy of enterprise-wide carbon management platforms. According to Verdantix, forward-looking capabilities are critical for compliance and performance improvement, and these go well beyond basic carbon calculations and disclosure requirements.
SpheraCloud Corporate Sustainability software emerged as a leader in this report, and in this piece we highlight the many capabilities and benefits associated with this platform. Broadly, Sphera’s solution design and capabilities go beyond ESG and sustainability compliance and reporting to help companies achieve transformational performance improvement. Key features help companies operate within the ever more dynamic sustainability environment and can help future-oriented companies as they meet increasingly complex demands for sustainability reporting. Download full report
Below, we examine Five Key Future-Focused Capabilities, highlighted in the Verdantix report for enterprise-wide carbon management platforms.
1. Investor-Grade, Auditable Data
First, carbon management software must securely collect and store data, but it also must offer value beyond this basic but crucial task. Solutions should enable companies to associate emissions quantities with specific operating assets (and legal entities) and facilitate data audits and process review. These solutions should also provide secure access for auditors that offers complete visibility into emissions calculation formulae, aggregations and consolidation. Finally, solutions should have data-gap-filling capabilities, and these should be transparent in operation as well.
2. Improved Carbon Accounting and Emissions Calculations
Calculating your company’s GHG emission baseline, including Scope 1, 2 and 3, often involves emission factors derived from disparate data sources. Often these sources use varying collection methods and update on different cycles. Our Corporate Sustainability software makes data access and integration easier, with consolidated, up-to-date emissions factors embedded directly into the platform. Flexible, real-time analytics provide accurate GHG emissions calculations, whenever they’re needed. Emission factor calculations are created within our business intelligence tool with high-performance technology based on big data analytics. Once new activity data or updated emission factors are loaded into the software, all related analytics are automatically recalculated. Staying up to date with peers and regulatory changes is made easier through our integrated impact libraries, which offer emission factors from external data sources such as Defra, IEA, EPA, IPCC and GHG Protocol, as well as Sphera LCA databases (GaBi), which are the largest, most comprehensive and consistent datasets available. They offer a full spectrum of technological, sectoral and regional coverage, enabling companies to determine accurate Scope 3 assessments and articulate robust climate change strategies, achieved through advanced monitoring systems. These up-to-date, extensive data sets support a broad, fact-based and science-driven approach to GHG emissions calculations, delivering transparency, depth and accuracy for outstanding reliability.
SpheraCloud Corporate Sustainability software is designed to fit the changing needs of companies with very specific and/or diversified reporting requirements. For efficiency and a rapid rollout, our experienced implementation consultants can guide you through the entire process—starting with scope definition, system design and user-acceptance testing, all the way to final configuration, training and system go-live. Sphera’s consultants are domain experts on sustainability reporting and GHG accounting, and Sphera’s software helps organizations to transition from basic GHG accounting to high level of maturity towards GHG accounting intelligence and ever evolving reporting requirements.
3. Scenario-Based Evaluation of Physical Asset Risk
To meet today’s requirements—and to be ready for tomorrow’s—firms must be able to conduct complex climate scenario analyses and quantify distinct risks and opportunities across a broad range of industry-specific, geographic, supply-chain and product related factors. The TCFD’s scenario analysis criteria help companies create these scenarios for strategic planning and climate risk reporting. Sphera’s Sustainability Consulting team helps customers develop climate risk assessments using our Corporate Sustainability software. Customers can model climate risk, water scarcity and waste-mitigation and highlight distinct areas of concern — not just from a current and past perspective but also from a predicted-future scenario. Local asset-level climate risks such as water stress, sea-level rise and cyclones / hurricanes are tracked, as are transition risks based on local legal requirements and / or technological limitations. Projected risk data can be isolated or integrated for each operating site. Using the software’s action and target module, firms can identify, map, prioritize and monitor climate change mitigation actions, investments, carbon savings and related carbon price at a granular level matched to site or further aggregated all the way up to a company level. The core product functionality includes a full report generator, enabling data visualizations on a daily, monthly, quarterly, half yearly or yearly basis. The software also provides state-of-the-art business intelligence (BI) analytics, leveraging a sophisticated database and several advanced calculation engines.
4. Financial Management Functionality
TCFD recommendations require companies to accurately apply an internal carbon price to distinct business activities, purchased services and raw materials. Additionally, for the financial sector to comply with reporting requirements based on TCFD recommendations, banks, investors and asset managers must be able to calculate, understand and manage financed emissions across their portfolios.
SpheraCloud Corporate Sustainability enables visualization of financial data on a daily, monthly, quarterly, semi-annual or annual basis. Reports are also supported for any hierarchy level or parameter — and they can be created instantly and intuitively by any user with the appropriate permissions. Structures for organizational entities and cross-functional measures (like carbon reporting KPIs) can be tailored by the customer to allow different reporting focus areas — for example, distinct carbon reporting KPIs pertaining to EU taxonomy and the Sustainable Finance Disclosure Regulation. As noted above, our Corporate Sustainability software provides state-of-the-art business intelligence analytics, and with the addition of the upcoming PCAF (Partnership for Carbon Accounting Financials) module, Sphera’s software will bring its breadth of analysis and expertise to the financial sector. The new functionality will further divide Scope 3 Category 15 into distinct asset classes — each with their required methods and data granularity for measuring financed emissions. This will enable financial institutions to efficiently calculate the financed emissions of any existing or potential investment; stress-test risk and controls; and build more effective strategy and transition plans. Experience has repeatedly shown us that better measurements lead to better strategies, and better strategies lead to better actions and execution.
5. Net-Zero Strategy Development and Program Implementation
At a high level, organizations need insights and software to efficiently accommodate and respond to change. Sphera’s sustainability consultants bring a wealth of relevant knowledge to enable this change. They advise clients on defining net-zero objectives and strategies, and they can also provide guidance for developing a climate strategy that is based on deep decarbonization for different sectors. Solutions need to enable tracking of enterprise-wide decarbonization projects that cover emissions associated with buildings, equipment, data centers and vehicle fleets. They also must accurately calculate upstream and downstream emissions associated with these changes.
Agreed-upon targets (Environmental, Social, Governance, Financial, etc.) can be tracked against any metric via the targets and actions module. In addition, the GHG mitigation actions required to achieve each target can be analyzed from a financial and risk perspective to fully inform investment decisions. The Sphera solution also allows organizations to respond in a coordinated, efficient manner by enabling them to define, plan, assess and track objectives at any level of the organizational hierarchy — applying the same detailed scenario analysis. Process continuities can be maintained or modified because the solution is highly configurable, allowing customers to implement current (or improved) workflows. Analytics provide feedback for tracking performance against targets with multiple scenarios — for example, Science-Based Targets based on a scenario of “well below 2 degrees C” or a 1.5-degree scenario. Financial information related to actions (renewable energy procurement, deployment of low carbon technologies, supplier engagement, circular economy product design, etc.) can be captured and analyzed to identify the combination of actions that ensure targets are met and optimal ROI is achieved.
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