FAQs: Updating the Toitū carbon programmes

What you need to know about updates to our programmes

We're answering the most commonly asked questions here.


What’s changed?

The new version is being piloted currently, and our accreditor JAS-ANZ is reviewing our work. We’ll update these details once they have been reviewed and tested.

A few quick insights to the coming changes:

  • We are updating all of our tools, guidance, templates and software to make your work easier. User friendly improvements will roll out over three phases.
  • It aligns with the latest in best practice, including ISO 14064-1:2018, science-based target setting principles, GHG Protocol Scope 2 and Scope 3 guidance, and more. Watch this recorded webinar to understand the changes to ISO 14064-1 since 2006
  • The new version of the programme allows each organisation to set bespoke scope and boundaries that speak directly to their operations and sustainability strategy.

At a high level, you’ll need to do a bit of work to start with your why – why are you measuring carbon and who are your key stakeholders for the work. This will help establish significance criteria which will let you filter which activities should be measured and which can be excluded. We’ll provide tools and guidance to support this process, and you can review and change it over time as your needs and intentions evolve. Review this slide pack with some of the key changes.

Other new features include the ability to set a three-year-average base year (which might help if you need to manage Covid-19 impacts on your base year); a change in how we require the Emissions Management Plan for your first year, letting you focus on measurement in year 1 and then take the time in year 2 to set your full targets and plans; and tools to allow you to estimate the uncertainty within your inventory, so that you can work on improving your inventory over time.

Do we have to update?

Yes, all members will transition by June 2022 at the latest. This is in part due to the retirement of the old version of ISO 14064-1 and -3, meaning Toitū will only be able to audit an inventory to the current version of the standard from that date. Globally, no accredited certification to ISO 14064-1:2006 will be allowed to take place after 1 June 2022.


Timeframes

When will we be audited to the new Programme and updated standard?

All members will keep their usual audit timeframe and measurement period. We will work with every member on a custom transition plan, but in general:

  • If your next measurement period ends before 31 March 2021 and/or your next audit is due before 31 May 2021, we recommend you continue with the current version for that work, and start fresh on the new version of the programme for the following period
  • If you have recently completed an audit and have not made significant progress on measuring your current measurement period, we recommend you switch to the new version of the programme for the work in progress, so your next audit will be on the new version
  • If you are in year 3 of 3, we recommend you finish this certification cycle on the same version, and then switch to the new programme version for the next re-certification audit.

In practice, you can still be audited against the current programme for your next audit (or possibly more audits depending on your cycle), up until June 2022. After June 2022, all audits will be against the new version, but we’ll work very closely with you to make sure you are ready by then.

transition timeframes for carbon programme updates

If certification is granted against the current standard will it remain valid after the transition period?

Yes, don’t worry – any certifications we issue will be valid for the usual period. We won’t conduct any more audits against the old version after June 2022, but even if you are audited against the old standard in May 2022 and certified, that next year of certification will remain valid. Your next annual audit in May 2023, for example, would then be against the new standard.

We want to change right now! When can I get started?

Changes are in pilot mode, the rest of our members will be able to transition from the time that our accreditation transition is issued in line with your standard audit timeline and measurement period. We anticipate that the transition of our accreditation will occur approximately June 2021.

This is our first time – what should we do?

For those working on their first inventory and certification under the Toitū carbon programmes, consider how far along you are.

  • If you are ready to go already, then we recommend you proceed with the current version for your first year and then transition for your next inventory.
  • If you are still in the early days, or don’t mind possibly pushing out your project plan and ideal certification target date, then we recommend going straight to the new version. Timeframes on this are dependent on our accreditation being finalised (currently anticipated for June 2021). We recommend you chat with your account manager for the best approach in your case.

Certification and Programme Delivery

Does this mean if we are still on the 2006 version of the standard that we aren’t current? How long is the transitionary period?

The transitionary period provides for use of the 2006 version until June 2022, as agreed by the global accreditation bodies (that is, JAS-ANZ and their oversight body, the International Accreditation Forum). On the ISO website, they have removed the old version to ensure no one purchases the outdated version, but the global network of bodies verifying and certifying against that standard will use both versions during the transition period, with everyone globally moving to the latest version after June 2022.

Our accreditor, JAS-ANZ is currently reviewing our updated version of the programme to make sure it aligns with the 2018 version, and we aim to have that accreditation no later than June this year. From there, Toitū will work to move everyone over to the new version in line with your annual cycle and timeframes.

While the new measurement standards were released in 2018, the auditing standard wasn’t released until 2019 and the accreditation standard (governing how we run our programmes and issue certifications) wasn’t released until December 2020. We had to wait for all three pieces of that puzzle before we could seek accreditation to the new standards, hence the delay.

How does ISO 14064-1:2018 align with other standards?

ISO 14064-1 still aligns with other programmes and the GHG Protocol, and Toitū’s carbon programmes will continue to be in line with both ISO 14064-1 and the GHG Protocol, ensuring you can use your Toitū carbon work for other commitments or reporting requirements.

GHG Protocol: This new version of ISO 14064-1 actually aligns more closely with the GHG Protocol than before. While ISO has changed to Categories instead of Scopes, the way activities are grouped still lines up. The new ISO standard also allows for market based electricity reporting in line with GHG Protocol Scope 2 Guidance. The new ISO Categories 3-6 align neatly with the GHG Protocol Corporate Value Chain Standard. If you are certified to ISO 14064-1:2018, rest assured that you continue to align with the GHG Protocol.

Scopes vs Categories

Science Based Targets initiative: As with the GHG Protocol, your ISO 14064-1 compliant inventory will also still inform your Science Based Targets submission. The categorisation of emissions sources and sinks aligns with the former Scopes allowing your targets to transfer neatly to your latest inventory.

When will the guidance be available so we can start our thinking and planning?

We have some guidance and materials available now – talk to your account manager. This includes presentations and videos outlining key changes and improvements to our programmes.

We will have a lot more ready to go as soon as we get sign off from our accreditors.

How will Toitū support us to define intended use and users and our significance criteria? When will these tools be available for us to start?

Your account manager can help with tools and/or facilitation of workshops to help you to work out the intended uses and users of your inventory; this will make deciding what to include in your inventory much easier. We intend to provide additional tools in emanage to support this decision-making process too. This will make sure that you involve the right people from your organisation in discussions about who is likely to use your inventory to make decisions, and how they are likely to use the inventory.

What if our intended use and users change next year or in the next few years?

It is likely that as your organisation progresses through your emissions measurement and reduction journey, how you use your inventory will change, leading to a change in measurement boundaries. We will provide options for developing your inventory that allow you to compare like with like, such as by setting a minimum programme boundary for emissions sources, so that you can compare emissions from those sources year on year as well as your overall inventory. If transitioning to the new standard prompts you to measure more broadly than you have up until now, you will be able to reset your base year to account for that.

What support will Toitū be providing for sectors?

We are seeing both an interest in being able to compare emissions of similar organisations in the same sector, and willingness for sectors to work together to achieve emissions reductions and increase ambition. Both of these are likely to increase drivers for improvement, so we are looking at how we can support sector-specific emissions measurement through clear guidance on boundaries, emissions sources and sector best practice.

This will be easier for some sectors than others, and we will initially focus on sectors that are keen to work collaboratively and those that have a high membership already, and then work through other sectors over time.

We are considering options including written guidance, webinars, workshops and platforms for collaboration.

Are there any changes to the certification cycle (three years)?

Organisations will continue to have a three year certification cycle, and products will move from a two year cycle to a three year cycle, meaning that customers that have both organisation and products certified can align their certification cycles more easily.

We are also making some changes to what we expect in certification years (year 1 of the 3 year certification) versus surveillance years (years 2 and 3 of each certification cycle). These include:

  • Customers will not be required to complete all section of their reduction plan for the initial certification year. Target setting and identification of specific reduction project can be completed in year 2, giving organisations time to understand their key emissions sources and undertake strategic planning of reduction opportunities after their base year certification has been completed.
  • For most customers, we are likely to undertake the certification year audit to reasonable assurance, with a lighter touch ‘limited assurance’ audit in surveillance years. However, we can still accommodate customers with external reporting requirements that need reasonable assurance to be undertaken every year.
  • Reduction progress will be discussed in surveillance years to assess the likelihood of reduction targets being met, but will only be assessed fully in certification years.

Measure

How much more time will it take for us to prepare an inventory under the new version?

This will depend on your intended use and users and significance criteria. If you are including a much wider list of emissions sources and sinks across your value chain, it could take more time. If you are including activities that will be harder to track down measurement data for, it may mean more time working on estimates and assumptions or setting up new processes.

As with your first carbon inventory, the first time will likely take a bit more time as you discover your needs and set up solutions. Going forward, with good data management it shouldn’t necessarily take more time than it did before.

Will our footprint go up?

That depends! The emissions sources that are included in your inventory will depend on the intended purpose of your inventory. The minimum set of emissions sources for Toitū carbon programmes will be very similar to the current mandatory sources, so it may be that your inventory stays similar to what it has been in the past. On the other hand, if you are interested in engaging more with your supply chain, or have other reasons for preparing your inventory, our tools will support that.

It is worth remembering that while your measured footprint may increase due to broader measurement, that does not mean that your actual business impacts have increased. Instead, you will have a better understanding of emissions sources that may have been invisible to you in the past. Knowledge is power, so those increased measurements are a good thing.

How will we measure all these diverse new sources?

There are two main aspects to calculating emissions – the activity data and the emissions factors.

  1. Activity data: This is the data that you input to emanage – e.g. kilometres travelled in a vehicle, kilowatt hours of electricity used etc. For some emissions sources, especially emissions sources that are upstream and downstream of your own operations, this may be difficult to find, or may not be very accurate. In some cases, all you will know is how much you spend on a service. Your account manager can support you to work out what the best available data is, to get you started, and you can work to improve the data over time. If it is impossible to get the activity data you need, that is an acceptable reason to exclude the emissions source.
  2. Emissions factors: Toitū is working to increase our database of emissions factors so allow you to report more widely if you wish. If you want to include a new emissions source and can’t work out which emissions factor to use, or if you know about any emission factor databases that we don’t seem to be using, please let us know; this will help us to keep improving our database.

There are a lot of useful resources that might be useful in estimating emissions from tricky emissions sources, including the GHG Protocol and SBTi.

Will client/visitor travel be a mandatory emissions source?

This won’t be mandatory for Toitū carbon programme requirements but could be mandatory for your organisation depending on how you define your intended use and users and significance criteria. It may also be mandatory for certain sectors – this comes down to key stakeholders and what they perceive as significant to your operations. However, we recognise that it may be difficult to gather the information for this emissions source. As mentioned above, we can support you in improving activity data or emissions factors over time.

Will employee commuting be a mandatory emissions source?

This won’t be mandatory for Toitū carbon programme requirements but could be mandatory for your organisation depending on how you define your intended use and users and significance criteria. It may also be mandatory for certain sectors – this comes down to key stakeholders and what they perceive as significant to your operations.

We will be strongly encouraging employee commuting to be included, even if only an estimate at this stage, as having good information on this source of emissions will let you take meaningful action going forward to minimise this area of responsibility. Toitū carbon members will be given a range of ideas and templates to assess this area. Most organisations would be estimating these emissions through occasional staff surveys, but there may be innovative ways of understanding these emissions and driving behaviour change.

What has changed in how we document our quantification approach?

The new version of ISO 10464-1 requires that quantification approach be documented. In most cases the quantification approach used is (activity data) x (emissions factor). There are a few examples where other quantification approaches are used, such as the IPCC wastewater model. We will provide the ability in emanage to report these in accordance with the requirements of the standards.

What guidance and tools will be available around how we assess procurement (Category 4 and 5 emissions)?

This is an area we are working on, starting with the emissions sources that we think will be most commonly used. As we get a better picture of which new emissions sources you want to include in your inventory we will develop guidance, and include functionality in emanage to make reporting easier. We are currently assessing a database of spend-based emissions factors for services used by organisations, and are planning to include relevant databases of embodied emissions from materials for both NZ and UK regions.

What has changed to the reports?

We have combined the EIR and EMRP into one document (the Inventory and Management Report or IMR) and restructured the content to make it more focussed on the needs of users while ensuring that the IMR and Inventory spreadsheet in combination meet the reporting requirements of ISO 14064-1:2018. We have added an executive summary to the IMR to aid in communication within your business and to key stakeholders. Some parts of the management plan won’t need to be completed in the initial certification year, allowing you time to develop strong reduction targets linked with reduction projects.


Reduce

What about our Emissions Management and Reduction – how does that fit into the transition?

On the whole, your current EMRP will transfer nicely to the new programme. Many of the changes to the Programme just lock in the best practice we’ve been recommending for years, like setting science-aligned SMART targets.

Your Management Plan will need to be updated in line with your usual 3 year certification cycle, though you may choose to update it sooner depending on any changes to your boundary and included emissions sources under the new version.

What about our reduction targets?

You’ll still want to set reduction targets that are SMART and ideally science-aligned, and you’ll need to set targets against at least your largest emissions sources. To maintain certification, every six years you’ll still be required to demonstrate a reduction – we’ll be making that assessment based on the Programme Mandatory sources, so you can still maintain certification even if you haven’t managed to influence your supply chain yet.

Climate action is of course about more than just certification, it’s about impact. We will encourage you to look more widely at your impacts, even ones that you have very limited influence or control over. This could mean setting targets about getting more influence or better data in the short term and setting actual reduction targets longer term. Knowing the areas that you want and need to manage going forward will also help us know where we need to provide additional support going forward.


Audit

What will our new audit look and feel like?

For our clients, the audit itself will feel very familiar, we’ll still be checking the same types of data and information and asking similar questions. Our auditors will be doing a bit more work before the audit in the planning stage, focussing on understanding the risks associated with your inventory, so you may get more questions before we come on site. This extra work will reduce the time needed on site for clients that have their GHG information well managed.

Note there is also the option for lighter touch surveillance audits in years 2 and 3 of the three year cycle. These could be done to a Limited Assurance and done remotely, and likely require a reduced level of review and therefore fewer hours.

Will our audit be harder/more expensive?

That depends! The audit standard has changed too and there is a bigger focus on risk-based assessment. So if you have excellent systems for managing your GHG information, we will be able to do a ‘lighter touch’ audit, which will save us time and you money.

What if our organisation and the auditor disagree with the way we set our intentions, significance criteria and boundaries?

Don’t worry, this shouldn’t happen. Part of determining your intended use and users, your significance criteria, and therefore your sources and sinks is justifying and documenting your choices. That justification will support your case when given to the auditor.

Your Toitū advisor will also help – their technical expertise on the new standard means they can give a sense check that your justifications make sense and align to what the auditors will be looking for. There may also be the opportunity for early review of some aspects of your inventory planning. This won’t happen often, but could be an option if you are planning your inventory for an uncommon intended use, and where there could be a risk that the auditor might need additional information or documentation to confirm that the decisions made were appropriate.


Offset

If we measure more, will we have to offset more?

The minimum boundary for offsetting will be the same as the minimum for measurement, so if you want to get a better understanding of your wider climate impacts, such as through measuring more upstream and downstream emissions, you will be able to measure these without being forced to offset them.

Of course, we don’t want any greenwashing, so we will ensure that your claims for marketing are really clear about what you have measured and what you have offset.

And of course, the more you offset, the greater the benefit to our atmosphere in the short term. We can support you with custom offset boundaries above and beyond the mandatory scope as appropriate.