207375New ISO Sustainability Standards: One Done, One to Come!

New ISO Sustainability Standards: One Done, One to Come!

By Apurva Gosalia - Dec 11, 2023

Two ISO sustainability standards have been either launched or are in the pipeline. If widely embraced, both have the potential to simplify a currently complicated mosaic of standards, guidelines and verbiage that surround the drive to reduce companies’ climate impacts.

ISO 14068

The International Standards Organization finally published last week the long-anticipated ISO 14068 standard after a three-year wait. The new standard has the promising title, “Climate change management, Transition to net zero, Part 1: Carbon neutrality.”

The name gives an indication of the hope that this publication could bring a comprehensive and standardized wording and clear recommendations for action to achieve and demonstrate carbon neutrality. It remains to be seen whether ISO 14068 will prevail in the net-zero standard jungle.

Suppliers are labelling a steadily increasing number of organizations, products and services as “climate neutral.” The aim is communication of their environmental credentials to appeal to consumers. From a consumer perspective, environmental claims on climate neutrality must be credible and based on reliable methods of greenhouse gas accounting and communication of the results.

However, there are currently many approaches. Rather than offering choice, it makes the market opaque for the observer. There is also a risk of greenwashing and consumers can be misled by dubious claims.

In 2019, the British Standards Institute initiated the development of the ISO standard 14068 Carbon neutrality to remedy this situation. The standard is intended to define requirements and principles that must be demonstrated when the term carbon neutrality is used in communications. These relate to the management of greenhouse gas emissions with aspects of quantification, avoidance, reduction, substitution, compensation and sequestration.

The primary focus of ISO 14068 is on organizations and products. The standard prioritizes striving for and achieving carbon neutrality by reducing direct greenhouse gas emissions. Central to this is a hierarchical approach in the climate management plan. The plan places first avoidance, reduction and substitution of direct and indirect greenhouse gas emissions. Offsetting the remaining emissions follows. 

In addition to requirements for targets, the standard will set out specifications for achieving and verifying carbon neutrality. The scope of application is broad and includes besides organizations and products, also companies, local authorities, products, buildings, events and services. It is therefore particularly important that the standard helps to ensure a transparent and responsible use of the term carbon neutrality in the future. 

With the rising scrutiny on carbon neutrality claims and the imperative to combat greenwashing, the timing couldn’t be better. ISO 14068 is, therefore, poised to become a vital resource for professionals and organizations in search of authentic methods to attain carbon neutrality for their company and its products.

ISO 53001

The successful application by organizations of the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) will be certifiable in future. To do so, ISO are currently developing a new management system standard with ISO 53001. This will allow companies to certify themselves. The focus will be on organizations making an effective, efficient, systematic and measurable contribution to achieving the SDGs.

This sounds good news for many reasons. We need to speed up the implementation of the SDGs. Organizations of all kinds can and should contribute to this in a targeted manner. For sustainability to succeed effectively in organizations, a well-functioning and holistic sustainability management system is essential. In the future, organizations will be able to show that progress is based on certified processes, responsibilities and measurability in addition to their sustainability report.

All good news in the last month of the year. But at the end of the day, any standard can only be as good and useful as the people, companies and organizations living up to and following them.


Apu Gosalia

Related Topics

Latest Headlines    Sustainability    

Get your FREE Lube Reports

  • Keep up to date with the global lubricants industry every week.

  • Register for FREE