Investing in a better world

New standard for assessing and reporting green finance activities.

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Climate change is upon us, and it isn’t cheap. Not only does managing the effects of global warming require funding, but more money is needed to bring greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions down. It is estimated that many trillions of dollars of investment are required if we are to meet the world’s net-zero carbon goals. 

Green finance, or investing in activities related to climate change, is seen as the answer, but comprehensive and comparable assessments and reporting are essential to have any positive impact on the environment and attract further investment. It is also increasingly a regulatory requirement. A new standard has just been published to help. 

ISO 14097, Greenhouse gas management and related activities – Framework including principles and requirements for assessing and reporting investments and financing activities related to climate change, helps financiers assess and report on their actions and see the real value of their contribution to climate goals. 

The framework outlined in the standard specifies the principles, requirements and guidance needed. It is built around the “theory of change” approach, which aims to define what is needed for a long-term impact. ISO 14097 covers the effects of investment decisions on GHG emissions trends in the real economy, the compatibility of investment and financing decisions with low-carbon transition pathways and climate goals, and the risk on financial value for owners of financial assets (e.g. private equities, listed stocks, bonds, loans) arising from climate goals or climate policies. 

Massamba Thioye, Project Leader of the ISO group of experts [1] that developed the standard, said green finance investments contribute both to the global effort to reduce GHG emissions, and to the sustainability and long-term profitability of the financial asset itself. 

“Financiers can divest from carbon-intensive activities to manage their exposure to climate-related risks, but, unless done widely, the impact on greenhouse gas emissions will be limited,” he said.  

“What will be more effective is if they undertake policy advocacy, engage with their investee organizations and use their influencing power to foster the greening of their investment plans. Therefore, it’s important for them to be able to measure the consequences of these actions on the GHG emissions of the organizations in which they invest. The key to success in green finance lies in transparency and measurement, which is what this standard is intended to facilitate.” 

Thioye is also manager at the Mitigation Division within the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change secretariat, a key ISO partner. 

ISO 14097 is the latest in the emerging family of standards related to climate change and finance. Other standards in development include the future ISO 14030 series for the environmental performance evaluation of green debt instruments, ISO 14100 for the assessment of green financial projects and ISO 14093, which looks at mechanisms for financing the adaptation to climate change. 

  1. These standards are the work of subcommittees SC 7, Greenhouse gas management and related activities, and SC 4, Environmental performance evaluation, of ISO technical committee ISO/TC 207, Environmental management. The secretariat for ISO/TC 207 is held by  SCC, ISO’s member for Canada. All standards can be purchased from your national ISO member or the ISO Store.
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