At this week’s meeting in New Delhi of the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) Technical Committee 207 (TC 207) on Environmental Management, 25 NGOs from 6 countries submitted a letter supporting critical updates to ISO 14044, the requirements and guidelines for life-cycle assessment and the climate metrics used throughout ISO standards. These standards are used by an estimated 300,000 companies worldwide to make decisions about the environmental attributes of products.

The letter supports the position of the US Technical Advisory Group to TC 207 of the need for reform and updating of life-cycle assessment to provide better information to decision-makers and better identify opportunities to address environmental impacts. In particular, the letter highlights the need to update its climate metrics, based on new knowledge, understanding and urgency since the standard was developed.

The letter begins,

We, the undersigned, support the desired reforms to ISO 14044 proposed by the US Technical Advisory Group to ISO TC 207 and within ISO TC 207 generally. We view considering all impacts in life cycle assessment as a critical upgrade which will enable companies, governments, and other stakeholders to fully understand the environmental implications of the choices they make in guiding investments, setting policy, and making purchasing decisions in order to take the most effective mitigation actions.

In particular, we would like to call attention to the critical need to upgrade climate accounting metrics through the ISO process. According to the latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC Fifth Assessment Report), the world will exceed thresholds of irreversible climate change by as soon as 2035, when the global mean temperature is projected to be +1.5°C higher than in preindustrial times. It is clear from the IPCC that we must act with significant emissions reductions in the next 5-10 years if we have any hope of avoiding irreversible climate change. Having a proper set of metrics installed to steer policy in the short amount of time we have to act is critical, as these metrics are essential guides for any type of informed decision making

Click here to read the full letter to the ISO TC 207 Secretariat and list of signatories