Carbon Management Pros Can Prove Skills with New Certification
In a recent survey, more than half of carbon management professionals viewed their colleagues as incompetent.
That's bad news in any industry, but it's perhaps worse for carbon management, where regulatory and environmental pressures are driving up demand for people who can (competently) quantify and verify greenhouse gas emissions for companies, countries and offset projects.
Two nonprofits launched a new certification this week aimed at addressing both the quantity and quality of GHG professionals. The Greenhouse Gas Management Institute (GHGMI) and Eco-Canada have unveiled what they're billing as the world's first and only certification for carbon management professionals that is accredited under ISO (International Organization for Standardization).
"It's global in focus and basically gives people around the world a chance to prove and clarify their credentials," said Tim Stumhofer, a program associate with GHGMI, which offers training courses and certificate programs in the areas of GHG accounting, verification and offset projects.
Stumhofer drew a comparison between the long-awaited Environmental Professional Certification on Greenhouse Gases -- EP(GHG) for short -- and the bar exam in the legal field. As far as competing certifications, he pointed to one offered by CSA Standards, which he described as exam-based, whereas the EP(GHG) also takes into account work experience and training. There are also European offerings that are geared more toward ensuring professionals are competent with a specific program, such as the Carbon Trust standard.
He called the ISO 17024 accreditation an established standard that is "tried and true" outside of the climate space.
"It is the standard for certifying personnel and demands robust processes and procedures that ensure a quality, unbiased certification," Stumhofer said. "It's an expensive, time-consuming infrastructure to develop but one we think is critical for global acceptance, which is why we've put so much effort and emphasis into this framework."
EP(GHG) is offered for quantifiers and verifiers. A quantifier is someone who measures greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions for an inventory or emissions reduction project, while a verifier evaluates and affirms that an inventory has been conducted to meet established criteria.
The certification is directed toward three groups, Stumhofer said. First, there are those who already meet the certification requirements, including five years of experience and a university degree in a relevant field.
The second group would be those already in the field but with less experience, making them eligible for the Environmental Professional in Training, called EPt(GHG). "It gives them something clear to work toward so they can demonstrate their credentials," Stumhofer said.
EPt(GHG) is also appropriate for those outside the field by providing a clear career path. This is particularly relevant for the growing number of college graduates showing interest in sustainability careers, as well as professionals looking to refresh their skills or develop new ones. "It gives a pretty clear professional ladder and something to aspire to," Stumhofer said.
The price tag for the professional certification includes a one-time $300 application fee, a one-time $250 exam fee and a $200 annual maintenance fee. The cost for the training version includes a one-time $200 application fee and $100 maintenance fee.
Like the bar exam, Stumhofer hopes that one day the certification would offer carbon management professionals "a true professional identity." But it also provides an ethical dimension for a global carbon market haunted by scandals, including the suspension of several well-known emissions reduction project verifiers and fraud in the European Union Emissions Trading Scheme (EU ETS).
"It's the idea of professional norms," he said, "developed at the community level, with self-policing and best practices, that professional certification engenders."
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