Aligning the CDP and GRI Guidelines

Aligning the CDP and GRI Guidelines

To standardize the two most widely used mechanisms for corporate emissions reporting, the organizations publish a linkage document comparing indicators and questions.

When the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) issued guidance earlier this year on disclosure of climate change risks and opportunities at publicly traded companies, the news was met with widespread approval by sustainable investors who had been calling for corporate reporting on climate change for many years.

At the time of the SEC announcement, Lisa Woll, CEO of the Social Investment Forum (SIF), said, "This is perhaps the biggest development so far in the long-term campaign to promote wider sustainability reporting. Today, we renew our call for mandatory corporate environmental, social, and governance (ESG) or sustainability reporting."

The most widely used mechanisms for corporate reporting of greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) and climate change are the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP) and the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI), although the GRI Guidelines address broader elements of sustainability reporting of environmental, social, and corporate governance (ESG) factors. At least 2,500 organizations globally use CDP’s questionnaire to report climate change data, while over 1,300 organizations from 64 countries published a GRI-based sustainability report in 2009.

Because climate change reporting is becoming increasingly important, and because considerable overlap exists between GRI’s indicators and CDP’s questions relating to energy consumption and GHG emissions, the two organizations have agreed to collaborate in an effort to standardize the practice. To that end, the two organizations have published a linkage document to coordinate a more efficient reporting mechanism.

The 17-page document consists of a table that "compares the relevant indicators and questions and reveals the similarities as well as the disparities," according to GRI. According to the linkage document, "This table includes the relevant GRI G3 Profile Disclosures and Performance Indicators (plus Indicator Protocol Compilation section) and relevant CDP questions from the 2010 questionnaire where overlap between the two was found."

"This will enable reporters to use or adapt the same data in both reporting processes," the document continued.

GRI is in the process of updating its Sustainability Reporting Guidelines, and plans to incorporate the findings of the linkage document in order to align its new guidelines with those of CDP. In addition, the organizations will collaborate to achieve greater alignment on industry-specific sector questionnaires.

This article originally appeared at SocialFunds.com and is reprinted with permission.