The fear of global warming drives a great deal of public debate these days. The release of greenhouse gases (GHG) into the atmosphere has become the greatest ecological sin since acid rain. It does not matter which celebrity is beating the drum or whether the science is flawed, the public demands that industry and individuals reduce emissions.
Enter THE CLIMATE REGISTRY where companies and organizations report their emissions according to a uniform accounting standard. This is a non-governmental organization representing states, provinces and tribes in a co-operative initiative funded by members and reporting entities.
The goals of the organization are to 1) create a common standard for measuring and tracking GHG emissions; 2) standardize best reporting practices; 3) promote full and public disclosure; 4) lower the cost of reporting; and 5) establish an infrastructure to support current and future mandatory reporting programs.
The Climate Registry is gaining support. A look at its home page (www.TheClimateRegistry.org) includes a map of North American participants including eight Canadian provinces, the majority of U.S. states and six Mexican provinces. Notable by their absence are Alberta and Newfoundland/Labrador, nor are the Canadian territories represented. The list of participating tribes is short: only three from the United States.
So what do GHGs have to do with the mining industry? At individual mines, vehicle emissions are of primary concern. The need for clean air underground has already led to a several technologies to reduce emissions in that setting. Haulage trucks and excavators in open pits spew deleterious gasses. Conventional means of roasting ore and smelting can be huge producers of GHGs. Reliance on electrical power increases the use of coal-fired generators, with their attendant GHGs.
While many reporting requirements today are voluntary, the future is probably littered with mandatory obligations. Having a say in how GHG emissions are reported is important rather than waiting for the alternative: expensive and overlapping mandatory requirements legislated without industry input.
Among Canadian participants in the Climate Registry there are no mining companies. The only name that caught my eye was environmental consultant JACQUES WHITFORD LTD. of Saint John, N.B. Nor were there any large manufacturers.
However, among American reporters are NEWMONT MINING, SUNCOR ENERGY (USA), CLEVELAND-CLIFFS, SIERRA PACIFIC RESOURCES, KENNECOTT UTAH COPPER, SHELL OIL COMPANY, FORD MOTOR COMPANY, JOHNSON & JOHNSON, various power companies, government departments and institutes. This is a very eclectic membership with plenty of room for more mineral producers.
Please excuse my doom-and-gloom, but the day is coming when all organizations will have to report their GHG emissions. Check out the Climate Registry as a means of making that chore as rational, economical and proactive as possible.