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Tracking Carbon Emissions: The Next Big Reporting Challenge

With new greenhouse gas regulation looming, SAP, Microsoft and Accenture help the Carbon Disclosure Project with a SaaS-based BI platform.

"The fundamental problem is that we have national governments and global corporations," said Paul Dickinson, CEO of the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP), a non-for-profit organization that is attempting to set a global standard for the reporting of greenhouse gas emissions. "This is a design flaw in the world, and we are pleased and proud to be fixing that by connecting it all together with a single reporting system for the globe."

Dickinson was speaking at a September 24 press conference in New York that was also attended by executives from SAP, Microsoft and Accenture, who were there in part to endorse and validate CDP's growing influence. Now seven years old, the organization has enlisted 475 investors, including more than 40 institutional investors, and it has persuaded more than 2,500 major global corporations to report emissions using its standards and reporting platform.

CDP Headshots

"In the 2009 report just released, 82 percent of Global 500 companies and 66 percent of U.S. Standard and Poor's 500 companies have reported their emissions to the CDP," noted Marty Etzel, vice president of sustainability solutions at SAP. "The real challenge is now to make all this data actionable and comparable."

To that end, the core purpose of the press conference was to announce plans for an improved CDP data collection and reporting platform built with assistance from SAP, Microsoft and Accenture. To date, CDP has used a homegrown application to gather greenhouse gas emissions data from corporations. CDP and its partners said the new platform, to be launched in February 2010, will be a highly scalable, "industrial grade" replacement that will help the organization deliver more reliable data and deeper analyses.

"This system will provide an unprecedented, global hub of information on a world-class reporting platform," CDP's Dickinson said. "As a result, investors will receive data in more detail down to the facility level. It will also offer preprogrammed data conversions and clear audit standards, and data verification will be a requirement for the high-level reporting companies."

Built on SAP BusinessObjects' BI OnDemand product and implemented and hosted by Accenture, the software-as-a-service-based platform also promises to make it easier for companies to collect and submit greenhouse gas data to the CDP through Web-accessible forms. And once the data is collected, corporations, government agencies and others will be able to analyze the data to make informed decisions on capital allocation, risk management, operations, strategy, regulation and policymaking.

"Our business intelligence tools will be used to store and deliver CDP's data to stakeholders through interactive dashboards," SAP's Etzel explained. "Users will be able to filter the data based on parameters such as geography, greenhouse gas type, industry sector and so on."

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