Greenhouse gases occur at every turn during an event’s lifecycle - mains electricity, gas in kitchens, fuel in mobile power generators, site plant and equipment. And of course the big one, air travel. GHG’s are  also hidden in an event’s materials and supplies, in the food served, water used and processing of waste the event creates.

Understanding the GHG impacts of your event activities, taking action to reduce them, and measuring and disclosing your performance, is taking a responsible attitude to GHG management. Offsetting the remaining and unavoidable GHG emissions, and encouraging attendees and suppliers to do the same, is the next admirable step for our industry.

Why measure GHG’s?

By getting the full picture of your event’s GHG impacts, you can set a baseline, and from here you can work out where opportunities are to make reductions.

Whether motivated by obligation, expectation or your own conscience and dedication, disclosing your final GHG impacts and reduction achievement is where it’s at.

Measurement Challenges

Accurate and effective measurement is a complex issue and made more so by the fact there’s no clear directive or industry agreement on how far down the line a GHG emissions calculation should go for events. We don’t have common measurement protocols, or an industry-wide program to accurately and independently assess GHG claims. There’s also no entity that events need to report their GHGs or justify their claims to.

Comparing one event’s GHG impacts to another is difficult to do in a way that has meaning. The language used by some events, especially when claiming a ‘carbon footprint’ or that they have achieved ‘carbon neutrality’ is sometimes less than transparent.

Measurement Protocols

The pathway to accurate, transparent, robust, effective and useful GHG measurement and reporting is a long and winding road.

Luckily there are a some protocols and publications we can draw on to guide the GHG measurement process for events, in the absence of a second-generation interpretation by the event industry and the provision of an accepted methodology. (Watch this space, we hope to get there in our sector soon!).

We can make a start by following guidance developed by the Greenhouse Gas Protocol, which describes and categorizes GHGs and sets the global standard for how to measure, manage, and report greenhouse gas emissions.

The international standard ISO 14064 provides governments, businesses, regions and other organisations with a complimentary set of tools for programs to quantify, monitor, report and verify GHG emissions.

PAS 2060, Specification for demonstration of carbon neutrality is a publicly available standard produced by British Standards, which, as it says on the label, offers specifications to organisations wishing to demonstrate (communicate/promote) that they are carbon neutral. It offers terrific parametres on how to determine what GHG sources can be deemed 'material' (important). Likewise, Australia's National Carbon Offset Standard sets principles to consider in the calculation of a footprint, which are useful to draw on.

I hope this article series can offer some clarity and direction on how to determine and justify your event’s GHG emissions inclusions and exclusions, and performance claims.

Next: Event Carbon Footprinting