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    Voluntary standards for natural gas: Key differentiators & questions to consider

    As the number of voluntary standards for natural gas continues to grow, figuring out which initiatives are right for your business can be a complex undertaking. 

    In our recent webinar on how to navigate voluntary standards, Validere’s Dr. Erin Tullos and GHD’s Rob Campbell-Watt discuss key differentiators businesses should consider when evaluating initiatives, as well as important questions to ask to ensure alignment with your organization’s financial and environmental goals.

    “I often hear from companies that are thinking about how to engage in the space, the more they learn, the more confused they are about the options and the differences,” explains Dr. Tullos. “I really empathize with the feeling that there’s a swirl of things we could do, but not really sure what we should do.”

    Here are key differentiators and questions you should consider when evaluating voluntary standards for natural gas.

    Key differentiators between voluntary standards for natural gas

    Our experts view the following six criteria as key differentiators businesses should look at when exploring voluntary initiatives:

    1. Methane focus

    One of the first aspects to consider is whether or not the initiative covers methane. Especially if methane reduction is an important part of your company’s ESG program, make sure the voluntary standards you work with includes a focus on methane.

    2. Certificate/tradable instrument

    Particularly for businesses looking at certified natural gas or responsibly sourced gas, it is crucial to evaluate whether an initiative offers a certificate or some type of tradable instrument. It is important to note that not all voluntary standards provide a certificate, so make sure to do your homework if that is a key differentiator for your organization.

    3. Measurement-based MRV framework

    Another aspect to consider is whether or not the voluntary standard is built on a measurement, reporting, and verification (MRV) framework. Having a focus on measurement is particularly vital to ensuring the efficacy of abatement strategies.

    4. Third-party independent audit

    In order to participate in some voluntary standards, an audit of your data by an independent third party may be required. This added layer may be an attractive differentiator for businesses that want to further ensure the veracity of their environmental claims.

    5. Mitigation oriented

    A key differentiator to consider is whether or not an initiative is mitigation oriented. Not all voluntary standards focus on this area, so take the time to really understand an initiative’s aims and if they align with your mitigation goals. 

    6. Global

    The final criteria to consider is the scope and scale of an initiative, as some are focused on demonstrating performance on a global scale, while others concentrate efforts on specific geographical areas. Make sure the voluntary standards you work with match your global or regional ambitions.

    Key questions to ask when evaluating initiatives 


    While navigating the voluntary standards landscape, make sure you are asking the right questions to align initiatives with your goals. A few key, general questions Dr. Tullos’ suggests asking include:

    • What do I want to accomplish?
    • Do I need a certificate?
    • Am I focused on making money?
    • Am I trying to demonstrate performance in an international context?

    “Once those main drivers have been thought through, selecting a standard reporting framework or a certificate becomes an easier task,” says Dr. Tullos.

    Connect with our experts for help navigating voluntary initiatives

    Need help making sense of all the voluntary standards available for natural gas? Connect with our team of experts, who can help you understand today’s landscape for voluntary initiatives.  

    Watch the full webinar to learn more about voluntary standards for natural gas.


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