Contribution of accreditation to the fight against climate change
Combating climate change effectively is one of the most urgent global challenges of our time. Just a few weeks ago, the participants in this year’s climate summit in Glasgow agreed on intensified international efforts to combat climate change and confirmed the goals of the Paris Agreement and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. What role do accreditations and conformity assessments play in this context?
More quality, safety and reliability through accredited services
Accredited – and hence reliable – conformity assessments support the global response to the threat posed by climate change in many ways. Conformity assessment bodies test, certify, verify and inspect in areas such as the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, energy efficiency or renewable energy. Because to identify whether goals are being achieved and in which development steps, the authenticity and comparability of the data collected is crucial. In many areas of the energy sector, plants, processes and systems must also function safely and effectively, regardless of their location or of the operators and users.
This means that accreditation is also an important instrument in the areas of energy and climate, because as proof of competence, accreditation ensures that the people who verify products, services, systems, processes or personnel themselves comply with the requirements placed on them. In Germany, Deutsche Akkreditierungsstelle (DAkkS) assumes this statutory mandate.
But which specific areas of application of accredited services can actually be found in the areas of energy and climate?
Emissions trading: verified reports as a basis
With the European Green Deal, the EU member states aim to become climate neutral by 2050. To achieve this goal, greenhouse gas emissions are initially to be reduced by at least 55 per cent by 2030 compared to 1990 levels. A cornerstone of this EU policy and an important instrument for the efficient reduction of greenhouse gas emissions is the European Union Emissions Trading Scheme (EU ETS). Put simply, companies in certain sectors must under this system record their greenhouse gas emissions, submit an annual emissions report and acquire the appropriate number of CO₂ emission allowances.
The necessary verification of these emission reports is the responsibility of verifiers who have proven their technical competence to an accreditation body – in Germany DAkkS – in accordance with the DIN EN ISO 14065 standard. These accredited verification bodies verify and assess the accuracy and conformity of companies’ greenhouse gas emission declarations by 31 March of the following year.
Only then will European emissions trading in the EU ETS - but also in other schemes such as CORSIA in international aviation – become functional and effective in terms of climate protection.
Maximum possible level of safety for renewable energy
For the expansion of energy generation from renewable sources, a key element in achieving better climate protection and greenhouse gas neutrality, stakeholders also rely on accredited conformity assessments. The spectrum ranges from type certification of plants for regenerative energy generation and the inspection of new or currently operating wind power and solar plants to certification of the identification of offshore wind farms. Expert opinions on wind yield or on shadow and noise forecasts for sites of new wind turbines are also prepared by accredited testing laboratories. Accredited services thus contribute to making the placing on the market and operation of regenerative power generation plants safer.
Energy management systems
Energy management systems (EnMS) that meet the requirements of the internationally established ISO 50001 standard also make a relevant contribution to the reduction of greenhouse gases. Many organisations are implementing these EnMS to reduce their energy consumption, increase energy efficiency and optimise their overall energy use. These measures not only have cost benefits for the organisations, they also improve their environmental performance. As a rule, certification in accordance with ISO 50001 is provided by certification bodies that have proven their own competence in an accreditation case.
It is therefore clear: in the fight against climate change, accreditation and accredited services play important primary and secondary roles – for both the energy industry and for policy measures to reduce and offset carbon emissions.