Information Systems for Environmental Sustainability

How IT can make the world a greener place

Q: Pricing carbon drives need for accurate carbon data

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Carbon has been priced at 17€/tCO2 if you are a business in France, decided by the French Government.

Role of information systems?

More sophisticated software systems will be needed to ensure efficiency and compliance. With an increase in regulatory reporting the requirements for more accurate data will be critical. The new reporting requirements will create a demand in automatic data collection and direct integration of carbon accounting systems with other enterprise data management systems.


An alternative view is put forth by Michael Woelk at tripleundit.com:

Even if sophisticated carbon management and inventory software are employed, the emissions tracked will at best be a highly educated guess. Are guess-based carbon measurements a good idea? Definitely not.

I’m not sure why this is the case. What’s the basis for the claim that “emissions tracked will at best be a highly educated guess.” Has a study been done on this? Is there abundant case evidence that in company after company emissions tracking numbers are not accurate or reliable?

For example, where is the “guesswork” in the University of Michigan’s use of their own purchased electricity data (1,570 billion BTUs in FY2008) to compute emissions data (430,000 metric tons in FY2008) from that source using a simple deterministic equation? Maybe I’m missing something?

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Author: nigelpm

Associate Professor of Information Systems, Stephen M. Ross School of Business, University of Michigan. Research/teach/consult - how IT transforms value generation in firms, focusing on corporate sustainability performance (energy reduction and carbon emission management).

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