Month: April 2020

Guarantees of Origin: An option for renewable energy in Europe

europe street

Since the World Resources Institute (WRI) unveiled new guidance for Scope 2 emissions accounting within the Greenhouse Gas Protocol Corporate Standard back in 2015, there has been an increased focus on global energy purchasing, with more organizations looking for options across the globe.  

Guarantees of origin

One such option is the Guarantee of Origin (GO), a voluntary renewable energy product that is used to claim consumption of renewable energy in Europe. A GO represents one megawatt hour of electricity from a renewable resource. Similar to a REC in the U.S., a GO represents the environmental attributes (but not the power) associated with renewable energy. Although all European countries are required to use GOs to track renewable energy consumption, not all have joined the Association of Issuing Bodies (AIB), which ensures adherence to best practices and market rules.

In countries that have joined the AIB, the European Energy Certificate System (EECS) certifies and registers each GO, preventing double counting and identifying the source of the GO and the method of production. In some countries, GOs may also be used to track renewable natural gas as well as some nonrenewable resources, so it is important to specify the type of GO desired when procuring these instruments. GO certificates are viable for 12 months from the date of issue.


Regulatory considerations

The European voluntary market is well defined with clear norms of transparency and accountability. However, there are some complexities to the market that are important to understand. Although the EECS system creates rules around the creation and transfer of GOs, there are some country specific rules that can impact customers, specifically around project eligibility and GO cancellation. Although Europe is considered to be a single market, GOs are intended (where possible) to be cancelled in the GO registry of the country in which renewable energy claims are made. Due to a patchwork of trading/cancellation restrictions across the continent, this requirement can add administrative complexity for companies with operations in multiple countries. 3Degrees works closely with our clients to help them navigate the logistics of making EU-wide renewable energy claims in line with market rules.


Note: As of Q1 2020, Latvia, Montenegro, and Portugal are in the process of applying to join the Association of Issuing Bodies (AIB).

Interested in learning more about global renewable energy options? Read our blog on Navigating the Opportunities and Pitfalls of International Renewable Energy Markets or this case study on how Verisk is successfully addressing emissions from its global energy load.

Earth Day 2020: A Call to Equity in Climate Action

Earth Day 50th Anniversary

It’s the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, and the 2020 theme is climate action. Today, much of the world is sheltering in place due to a global pandemic. While COVID-19 may change how we come together and demand climate action this year, it does not diminish the opportunity to raise our collective voices. In fact, it’s a perfect time to reassess and take a more holistic view of climate action.

As the impacts from the global pandemic highlight systemic inequities, Earth Day 2020 provides a moment for us to reflect on how climate change disproportionately impacts different groups of people. Our pursuit of climate action must acknowledge, explore, and advance equity.

The Climate Action Narrative Through an Equity Lens

First, we acknowledge that our company has a role to play in telling a more equitable story around climate action. 3Degrees supports organizations in reducing their climate impacts in a variety of ways. But how can we ensure that our day-to-day work advances our values around diversity, equity, and inclusion? How can we bring an equity lens to our climate work?

Our marketing team gathered for a virtual workshop last week to delve into these very questions. We learned new Zoom tips for virtual collaboration (annotate feature, anyone?) and discussed the importance of inclusive and equitable engagement, both internally and in our work with clients and partners.

Communications play a vital role in framing a narrative and engaging people to take action. I’m grateful to the amazing Vanice Dunn, Director of Equity at Provoc, who facilitated our workshop and highlighted the work of Open Society Foundations regarding the power of public narratives.

The stories we share and the content we consume advances or dismantles a narrative about how we view the world.

Examining the Dominant Narratives of Climate Change

Today, many of the headline-grabbing stories present a view of the world that is grounded in simplistic, either/or thinking. These narratives frame the discussion around a series of false choices: pandemic management or saving the economy; handling a global health crisis or protecting the environment; bolstering business or reducing emissions. These narratives present a false choice, enlisting us to choose a side. Perhaps just as problematic, this framing creates an artificial debate and distracts us from engaging with uncomfortable truths about broader systems and legacies of exclusionary policies.

On a personal level, I’ve been reflecting on the narratives I use to communicate climate action. The narratives generally celebrate progress by forward-thinking organizations. A few examples:

These statements are cause for optimism around climate action, as well as one marker of how far we’ve come since the inaugural Earth Day. While I am the first to applaud and promote these organizational actions, I’m noticing that I’m not always acknowledging the missing pieces of the climate action narrative. For example, the disproportionate impacts of climate change are not theoretical: people of color, Indigenous people, and low-income communities have already been adversely impacted by climate change.

As we rethink the narratives around climate change, some questions to consider:

  • Who is framing the problem?
  • What issues and people are not included in the framing process? Why?
  • How might another group of stakeholders frame the problem and potential solutions differently?

The answers to these questions reveal that there is a far more nuanced, complicated, and messy story about the uneven progress on climate change.

To honor an Earth Day focused on climate action, we must tell this story.

This Earth Day, I invite you to join us and begin your own journey to bring an equity lens to your climate action efforts. Not sure where to start? I encourage you to explore the environmental movement’s complicated history, as our Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion business resource group reminded our employees during Black History Month this February. As we commemorate the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, it is a unique moment in time for us to pause and consider the narratives we create, consume, and share. And, it’s a long-overdue opportunity for us to craft a new climate action narrative, one with equity at the forefront.