The U.S. EPA announced this week that it is phasing out its highly regarded Climate Leaders program, a voluntary national carbon registry for hundreds of large companies like 3M and Pepsi.
This decision comes a month before the annual Climate Leader conference and caught many off guard. Informal calls and emails with 10 large companies confirmed that the announcement was a surprise. One sustainability executive told me that he just completed his presentation for the Climate Leaders meeting next month and was then told he is no longer on the agenda. Bruce Klafter, Managing Director of EHS and Sustainability at Applied Materials sent a letter to the EPA expressing his disagreement with this decision and wrote a blog post about it.
The program was an invaluable source of business and technical help for companies starting to measure carbon emissions and a great vehicle for networking. We have always strongly recommended the program to large companies and a handful of our smaller client companies were considering joining the Climate Leaders Small Business Network.
The ending of this program may help participation rates in other voluntary registries like Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP), Carbon Trust, The Climate Registry (TCR) and others. Each program has different strengths and deficiencies. For example, CDP has a global view but offers little technical support. TCR has good standards for reporting and verification, but is not supported by all states and is not global.
What are your thoughts and concerns? Do you think this is a big deal? Does it add to climate change skepticism? Does it leave large companies looking for technical help from other registries?