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U.S. Facilities Unprepared for Climate Change Reporting - Reporting Crisis Looming

Affected facilities in the United States are ill-prepared to meet the federal government’s greenhouse gas reporting requirements according to leading greenhouse gas and climate change experts and professionals in an international survey released today by Sequence Staffing and the Greenhouse Gas Management Institute.

The release of the survey comes as delegates from over 190 countries are meeting in Cancun, Mexico to negotiate a successor climate treaty to the Kyoto protocol. The issue of monitoring, reporting and verifying (MRV) countries’ greenhouse gas emissions and emission reduction efforts is one of the central issues being debated at the United Nations summit.

Results of "The 2010 Greenhouse Gas & Climate Change Workforce Needs Assessment Survey Report" exposed their concern that large domestic facilities lack the technical capacity needed to meet the reporting obligations, raising a number of questions regarding data quality, rigor and reporting expectation of greenhouse gas (GHG) data under varying types of reporting regimes.

This follows 2009’s survey in which respondents overwhelmingly stated that GHG accounting was crucial to the successful management of climate change. That survey also pointed out a critical shortage of qualified staff and experts to meet the rapid growing demands of battling GHG and climate change, potentially contributing to a looming reporting crisis.

"We are at a crossroads and the prognosis does not look good," said Sequence Vice President Frank DeSafey, adding, "At this critical juncture when the federal government is establishing guidelines and mandating report requirements, we are still seeing a serious shortage of qualified personnel to carry out the workload and fulfill the government’s mandates. This is clearly being reflected in expert opinion that US facilities do not have the technical capacity to meet those obligations."

For the second year, this survey has been conducted to provide detailed findings on the state of the workforce that will continue to provide the foundation of society’s response to climate change by shouldering the responsibility for the implementation of climate policy.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Mandatory Reporting Rule (MRR) requires large industrial emitters to measure and report their GHG emissions, spurring questions of preparedness, "Do the affected facilities have the technical capacity needed to meet these reporting obligations?" GHG practitioners responding to the survey overwhelmingly (75.2%) stated that they believed these facilities are inadequately prepared. Of those concerned respondents, 63.3% said the facility managers were unprepared and 11.9% elevated their assessment to "highly unprepared." Conversely, only 22.9% believed that U.S. facilities were prepared, and 1.9% characterized U.S. facilities as "highly prepared" for mandatory GHG reporting.

"We are at the forefront of meeting the growing personnel needs of the climate change industry for competent personnel. It is critical that we train new experts and develop a broader professional community for this growing, emerging industry if we are to successfully meet the long-term challenge of climate change," said Michael Gillenwater, Executive Director and Dean of the Greenhouse Gas Management Institute.

The survey includes responses from over 1,000 climate change professionals focused on measuring and managing GHG emissions around the world, reflecting views from leading practitioners on every continent and major nation, and representing a significant fraction of the world’s professional experts and leaders on climate change.

Specifically, the research identified nine key findings:

Climate change remains an emerging field where practitioners rise quickly through the ranks. Respondents believe it only takes an average of 6.9 years of climate change experience to be considered an expert in the field.

GHG training gets high marks overall, but serious reservations are noted. Though 81.1% indicated they were generally satisfied with their training experience, when probed, majorities reported dissatisfaction with the topical breadth (53.2%), availability (63.8%) and rigor (59.1%) of training options.

U.S. facilities are ill-prepared for regulatory emissions reporting, while American and international companies cite confidence in climate risk disclosure. Overwhelmingly, 75.1% indicated their facilities were inadequately prepared to meet this reporting mandate.

Climate change practitioners support (81.2%) U.S. carbon pricing and on a separate noteworthy finding the vast majority (87.2%) expressed concern with the general public’s degree of understanding of climate change.

The carbon management software market is still in an embryonic stage as notably fewer than half (44.2%) had ever used a commercial GHG software product. Of those that have, 57.2% found it to be adequate for their needs and 35.4% found the new software insufficient.

Practitioners are concerned with peer competency; auditors are divided over the quality of work as a slight majority (51.4%) described their peers as incompetent.

Carbon markets are not up to snuff; auditing needs enhanced governance as 72.3% indicated they believe auditing lacks sufficient oversight.

GHG personnel are failing to meet current market requirements; competency concerns loom with the expansion of climate programs. There are gaps between workforce supply and demand as large majorities reported there is an insufficient supply of qualified GHG practitioners to implement expanding international GHG measures.

Climate employers and job seekers cite challenges in demonstrating and assessing carbon competency; they see professional certification as a fix (85.9%) as they would have found it easier (52.4%) or much easier (33.5%) to evaluate applicants if a professional credentialing system was available.

Complete survey results are available online: The 2010 Greenhouse Gas & Climate Change Workforce Needs Assessment Survey Report.

Sequence is a premier professional services organization committed to providing executive search and staffing solutions to niche environmental, GHG/climate change and engineering industries for over 15 years.

The Greenhouse Gas Management Institute is the world’s leading nonprofit organization on training and education related to GHG emissions.

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