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26 agosto 2022

Kaplan e um relatório medindo a questão ambiental

Robert Kaplan é um dos autores contábeis mais renomados. Em 2021, a Harvard Bussiness Review publicou uma proposta sua de contabilizar a mudança climática. Eis o texto:

Although about 90% of companies in the SP 500 issue some form of environmental, social, and governance (ESG) report, the current system of reporting is inadequate and subject to greenwash, i.e., selective metrics to show the company in a favorable light. The purpose of this article is to provide a more rigorous approach to ESG reporting referred to as an E-liability accounting system. It focuses on the environmental element of ESG which is the easiest component to measure, and the most urgent threat to humanity.

What's Wrong with the GHG Protocol

Most of the companies that provide estimates of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions rely on an approach called the GHG protocol that identifies three types of GHG emissions.

Scope 1: Direct emissions from sources owned or controlled by the company.

Scope 2: Emissions at facilities that generate electricity bought and consumed by the company.

Scope 3: Emissions from upstream operations in a company's supply chain, and emissions produced downstream by the company's customers and end-use consumers.

Many companies report their scope 1 and 2 emissions. However, scope 3 emissions is the fatal flaw in the GHG reporting system. Estimating all the upstream and downstream emissions introduces large measurement errors as well as potential bias and manipulation. As a result many companies ignore scope 3 measurements entirely. The authors' solution to this problem is based on how accountants estimate a company's value added. Value added is the difference between what an organization pays for goods and services from its immediate suppliers, and what it receives when it sells products to immediate customers. This approach can be applied to GHG emissions.

Tracking Emissions Across an Entire Value Chain

The idea is illustrated by a car-door company and its suppliers. The tracking begins with a supplier that extracts coal and iron ore that eventually becomes part of the car doors. The supplier records its scope 1 emissions using chemistry and engineering combined with cost accounting. These emissions (GHG units emitted per ton of extracted material) are treated as an E-liability reflecting their environmental cost to society. When the mining company transfers the coal and iron to the shipping company, the shipping company assumes the E-liability on its E-account. The shipping company adds the GHG produced by the barges it uses and transfers the coal, iron and accumulated GHG to the steel company that will produce the steel for the car doors. The steel company allocates its purchased and incurred scope 1 emissions to each of the tons of steel it produces. When the steel is transferred to the railroad company, each ton of steel carries its accumulated E-liability from the mining, shipping, and steel companies. The tracking moves on to the car-door company that adds its own GHG to the E-liability, and continues to the consumer who buys the finished car.

Measuring and Allocating Emissions

The E-liability accounting system requires two basic steps:

1. Calculate the net E-liabilities the company creates and eliminates each period, adding them to the E-liabilities it acquires and has accumulated, and

2. Allocate some or all of the total E-liabilities to the units of output produced by the company during the reporting period.

The first step involves estimates by environmental engineers to measure the quantity of GHG emissions from the company's primary activities. The second step is to allocate the GHG E-liability units to the company's products in the same way costs are allocated in an activity-based costing system.

What Companies Report

An E-liability statement includes net E-liabilities at the beginning of the period, E-liabilities acquired, net E-liabilities produced during the period, E-liabilities disposed of (sold), and net E-liabilities at the end of the period.

The Benefits of E-Liability Accounting

The advantages of the E-liability accounting system include:

1. It eliminates the duplicate counting of emissions that are embedded in the current scope 3 measurements.

2. It reduces the incentives for gaming and manipulation. For example, outsourcing production will not reduce a company's E-liability.

3. The E-liability system can apply its own materiality standard for GHG regardless of the current standards based on material financial risk.

4. A company's end of period E-liability balance can be audited by environmental engineers and cost accountants.

5. The E-liability system can run on a company's existing financial-reporting and cost accounting system by simply using different units of measurement, i.e., the quantity of GHG emissions.

Deploying E-Liability Across the Economy

All companies should be encouraged to report on their E-liabilities along with State-owned enterprises and government agencies including defense, transportation, energy, and healthcare. The E-liability approach recognizes the integrated nature of pollution activities across the economy and encourages all businesses to take GHG emissions into account in their decisions regarding product design, purchasing, and sales.

Going Beyond E

ESG includes social and governance issues as well as environmental issues, but it is difficult to calculate the value of components such as a company's labor practices, workforce diversity and governance. A company's social impact could be measured using the same approach outlined in this article, but more difficult because opinions related to acceptable corporate behavior are controversial. A beginning could include measuring adverse social performance such as unsafe working conditions, child and slave labor, bribery and corruptions. An S-liability system could be developed to motivate companies to eliminate these practices. However, an E-liability environmental cost system is a good place to start improving ESG reporting because it is the easiest component to measure and the most serious threat to humanity.

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