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How ‘official’ will my See Through Carbon score be?

Part of the problem See Through Carbon is addressing is the issue of there being no universally-adopted gold standard’ for carbon audits, particularly for small businesses. If your bigger customers haven’t yet required you to submit your carbon footprint so they can report theirs, they soon will. Adopting See Through Carbon gets you ahead of the game.

When will my rating expire?

It’s entirely up to you. Your rating is current until you update it.

Can I use carbon offsetting?

No. Offsetting schemes have proved themselves to be too unreliable. Outsourcing carbon reduction by paying others is ineffective, encourages complacency, and delays taking action to reduce carbon emissions under your direct control. Carbon insetting (i.e. a carbon-reducing scheme you directly control) might be permitted, but these are beyond the reach of most SMEs who are plenty busy with their core businesses.

How do you prevent people gaming the system?

All the data collected will be analysed by a team of carbon audit experts for quality control. They’ll identify anomalies, whether inadvertent or deliberate, and conduct random spot-checks.

I don’t want all my company’s information to be made public

The only data we collect is related to the emissions generated by your business – nothing financial. You gain reputational credit if you’re honest and transparent about your carbon footprint, which is why it’s important to make all your data available.

How will my contribution help others?

Your information becomes part of an international, transparent, open source resource that will always be free to use. As businesses sign up, trust in the score will grow, and the scores will become ever more accurate and fair. Being an early adopter means a longer track record.

How secure is my data?

An international team of IT veterans used best data security practices and standards to design See Through Carbon. We keep the amount of personal data held to the minimum required to be functional. Minimally, this is your name, email address, post code and country. Whenever possible the data is encrypted and anonymised, referred to only by your membership reference number.

Why do you need my data to come up with my score?

Comparing different small businesses from different sectors is far from straightforward. We want our scoring system to reflect reality, but also to provide an effective incentive for businesses to improve their scores (an algorithm that generates 100% Green or 100% Red scores is no use). It will take our experts some time to analyse the data, calculate reasonable grade boundaries, and give fair weighting to different sectors.

There are loads of carbon calculators out there – what’s different about See Through Carbon?

Carbon auditing is an imperfect science requiring many estimates and approximations. The more average values and dodgy offsettings are applied, the less accurate the result, and the less incentive any individual business has to improve their score. Our Pilots are designed by world experts to minimise the amount of guesswork, and apply as much real-world data as possible.

How long will it take me to enter all the data?

This depends on how easily accessible your information is, your type of business and your familiarity with carbon calculators (our facilitators are available to guide you through the data collection App if you’d like help). On average, we estimate it should take around an hour.

How soon will I get my score?

To fine-tune a system that delivers a reasonable distribution of grades, the Pilot needs data from around 100 businesses. Once we reach that figure, our carbon auditing experts will analyse and verify the data, before fine-tuning the algorithm that generates your score, which will take a few days. We aim to deliver your score by December 2023, but it could be much sooner.

Surely See Through Carbon will need some money at some stage?

If See Through Carbon is widely adopted following a Pilot, it will require some funding to guarantee continuity, reliability and integrity. Developing a standard without money is what makes See Through Carbon unique, something that is literally priceless. Many funders supporting a rapid transition to sustainability are following our Pilots with great interest, so we don’t anticipate a problem in covering these costs if it succeeds.

If you’re not charging me, who’s paying?

See Through Carbon is an open source project, driven by an international collaboration of volunteers: expert carbon auditors, IT professionals, software engineers, communications experts and business veterans. Donors are paying for web hosting, the only hard costs.

What’s the catch – will you start charging me later?

See Through Carbon will always be free to use. Its entire purpose is to remove the obstacles to small businesses to high-quality carbon auditing and consultancy. Being free to use is the keystone of its mission.

I may have to pay for it, but See Through Carbon’s commercial rivals give me a lower carbon footprint. Even if it’s free, why would I want to admit responsibility for more emissions?

This gets to the heart of the flaw in the current system – Carbon Accounting 1.0’ – where market forces incentivize giving the lowest number at the lowest price, to the detriment of accuracy.

See Through Carbon is interested in both accuracy and reduction.

Your initial audit from us provides your baseline measurement – the starting point from which to measure carbon reduction. The bigger your baseline carbon footprint, the greater your margin for reduction. The critical thing is to apply the same, accurate standards to measuring both before and after. When you make demonstrable reductions, that is a strong and positive market signal.

I’m busy and time is money – why should I participate in ‘Pilot 1 for Wiltshire SMEs’?
  • Free ads: whatever your initial score, you’ll get 50 free ads in a Facebook Group that reaches 40% of your customers
  • Free consultancy: we’re offering free bespoke advice from professional consultants that’s likely to significantly lower your costs and carbon footprint.
  • Publicity: See Through News will provide positive press releases and a wide range of social media assets mentioning you as Pilot businesses.
  • Unique pioneer: being first adopters will always give you a competitive advantage in your sector- there can only ever be one first adopter.
  • Reputation: you’ll contribute towards an ambitious global project that could accelerate our path to a sustainable future.
How can you accurately calculate our carbon footprint before the transport survey is complete?

We can’t, because no one can, because there’s no evidence on which to base our calculations of what’s likely to be the biggest emissions source – audience transport. That’s why we’re conducting the transport surveys, in order to estimate this more exactly once our statistical experts sign off on it.

Some of the information you want, like bar and merchandise sales, is commercially sensitive. What will you do with it?

Keep it between you and us. The data will only appear publicly in aggregate, anonymised form.

But doesn’t that mean our competition will benefit from all our work in collecting the data?

Quite the opposite. Pilot participants will be ahead of the game in comparing their own data with the public aggregated dataset, to see how they compare to the industry average, while their competitors will have to prepare the data from scratch, without historic travel survey data as event-specific references.

Once you’ve calculated the average carbon footprint of our concerts, how will you allocate the carbon liabilities between the different stakeholders?

Excellent question, which no other carbon audit standard has even asked, let alone answered. The working hypothesis is that the best practical solution is to divide it equally between venue, band and promoter, but this is up to See Through Carbon’s Trustees to decide once the Pilot data is in.

I can see the advantages of a free carbon audit for our SME supply chain, but how will this help us with our Scope 3 reporting?

When they adopt See Through Carbon, SMEs can choose to share commercially sensitive information – like the share of sales that your multinational represents – with us, and give us permission to pass on your share of their emissions to you. On this revenue basis, we automatically calculate how much of each SME’s carbon liability to assign to you, and present you with an aggregate Scope 3 figure for however many SMEs in your supply chain have signed up, preserving their confidentiality.

I see how this would keep us from deducing how dependent our suppliers are on us, but how can we verify these Scope 3 calculations?

You can’t, but we would be happy to share our evidence with any reputed third-party auditor you trust to verify our figures.

Why must we provide data from our freelance staff?

Your staff fall under Scope 1, but the emissions of any third-party providers – like freelance consultants to whom you subcontract work – constitute part of your Scope 3 (indirect emissions from purchased goods and services). You can either aggregate the data yourself, or tell them to sign to See Through Carbon themselves, but we can’t calculate your footprint accurately if we don’t include them.

Does See Through Carbon have a formal accreditation or affiliation to approve its methodology?

If you agree with our analysis of the problem with Carbon Accounting 1.0’, you should see there’s little value in any such accreditation. Established carbon standard brands might imply confidence in their methodologies, but we leave it up to you to do your due diligence, and compare our open source, transparent system with what you can deduce from the opaque, proprietary standards offered by commercial rivals.

Do I get credit for the solar panels on my farm?

Absolutely. The audit will include questions about the source of your energy, and use appropriate conversion factors.

We just sell or make clothing. How will you estimate the emissions cost of our raw materials?

There are well-established industry standards for such conversion factors’, which we apply according to the audit information you provide. What’s unusual about textiles is that these feature in Scope 2 (indirect emissions from Utilities – usually mainly power) as well as Scope 3 (indirect emissions from purchased goods and services).