COP28: ‘Proof of concept’ launched for net-zero data public utility 

French President Emmanuel Macron and UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy on Climate Ambition and Solutions Michael R. Bloomberg unveiled the proof of concept for the Net-Zero Data Public Utility (NZDPU or the Utility), which will be the world’s first global, centralized, open repository for private sector climate transition-related data freely accessible to all. The NZDPU is designed to provide unprecedented transparency into a core set of private sector climate data critical for the net-zero transition.

French President Emmanuel Macron said: “To achieve our climate ambition, it is our entire financial architecture which needs to be redesigned: this is what we agreed in the Paris Pact for People and the Planet last June. We will need a massive scale-up of private financial flows towards investments that contribute to the net zero objective. With our partners, we have been at the forefront already, launching the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD), for more transparency on companies’ climate risks, followed by the same exercise for nature (TNFD). This is also why I supported the creation of the One Planet Data Hub in 2021, which results now in the launch of this utility, thanks to M. Bloomberg’s commitment and the support from global partners. It is now already possible to compare climate commitments of 400 companies, and many more will come on board to make it a universal platform, accessible to consumers and investors for free.”

“The most valuable currency in financial markets is reliable data,” said Michael R. Bloomberg, UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy on Climate Ambition and Solutions. “This new data portal will allow investors and regulators to see which companies are making progress on their commitments, while also empowering the public to hold companies accountable for backing up words with action. I want to thank President Macron, the Climate Data Steering Committee, UN Climate Change, and all our partners who helped to bring the project to life.”

The NZDPU proof of concept is a significant milestone towards making climate transition-related data freely available in one place with enhanced consistency and transparency to serve user needs. The proof of concept delivers the foundational architecture to allow for scaling accessibility of companies’ direct (Scope 1) and indirect (Scope 2 and Scope 3) greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, and GHG emissions reduction targets. 

The proof of concept allows users to experience the initial set of features and functionality of the NZDPU. A public consultation open through March 1, 2024 will give stakeholders an opportunity to provide feedback that will inform the NZDPU’s future development.

In the longer term, the Utility is designed to be integrated into the UN Climate Change Global Climate Action Portal (GCAP), allowing even greater tracking of private sector climate commitments and progress within the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)’s Portal.

Simon Stiell, UN Climate Change Executive Secretary said: “Access to quality, comparable climate data from non-state actors is essential for driving accountability for their critical role in the net-zero transition. The Net-Zero Data Public Utility proof of concept shows that it is possible to provide the transparency the world needs to ensure these commitments turn into real action. I look forward to the further development of the NZDPU and its integration with the UN’s Global Climate Action Portal to present a clear, comprehensive view of global climate action.”

Mary Schapiro, Chair of the Climate Data Steering Committee (CDSC) said: “This proof of concept is a testament to the work of a dedicated group of standard setters, policymakers, and government officials committed to seeing the highest quality, most accessible climate transition-related data available to everyone – at a pace commensurate with the urgency of the challenge we face. While fast, this process has also been inclusive and meaningful. We invite all stakeholders to provide feedback on this proof of concept to inform future iterations of the Utility and allow our broad user base – including investors, policymakers, journalists, and more – to understand the financial implications of climate change.”

Future development of the NZDPU will aim to integrate more data over time through collaborations and as climate disclosure standards and requirements evolve. Collaborations with third-party disclosure platforms and initiatives will help increase company coverage at scale while limiting the reporting burden for companies by avoiding redundant submission processes. Future phases of the Utility will also work to incorporate previously recommended data fields not yet incorporated into the NZDPU, including companies’ financed emissions reduction targets, carbon credits, and associated metadata. 

Patrick de Cambourg, SRB Chair of the European Financial Reporting Advisory Group said: “The European Union has decided to establish a legal sustainability reporting regime which is to be implemented by the 50,000 largest companies in the Union. In this context, the European Sustainability Reporting Standards that have just been adopted provide a comprehensive set of Environmental, Social and Governance disclosure requirements, that will enable users to digitally process granular digital data points. We are very happy that the NZDPU takes full account of the ESRS climate-related disclosures together with information prepared following other major initiatives. This is a major step towards access to quality climate-related information globally”.

Mairead McGuinness, European Commissioner for Financial Stability, Financial Services and the Capital Markets Union said: “The launch of the Utility today is a remarkable achievement and shows our commitment to tackling climate change. This open and freely accessible global platform will provide seamless access to climate transition-related data from companies worldwide.”

Mark Carney, UN Special Envoy for Climate Action and Finance and Co-Chair of the Glasgow Financial Alliance for Net Zero said: “We won’t get to where we need to go if we don’t know where to start. Closing the data gap requires consistent, comprehensive, and decision-useful climate disclosure. GFANZ sees this proof of concept as a welcome milestone in developing the Net Zero Data Public Utility, which will ultimately provide financial institutions with the accessible, high-quality, and comparable data needed to develop transition plans and invest in the net-zero transition.”

Kristalina Georgieva, Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund said: “Policy decisions at a time of transition to a low-carbon economy must be based on robust and consistent data. This is why the IMF and our counterparts in central banks and finance ministries rely on initiatives such as the Net-Zero Data Public Utility to integrate essential climate data in macroeconomic and financial analysis. Together with the new G20 Data Gaps Initiative this work is essential to close critical climate-related data gaps.”

Emmanuel Faber, Chair of the International Sustainability Standards Board said: “The ISSB’s high quality, internationally recognised climate disclosure standards provide the essential foundation to the NZDPU’s work. Our inaugural standards are now issued, effective 2024. Next year is about action and delivery. We stand ready to play our part in ensuring the success of the NZDPU’s important work.”

Jean-Paul Servais, Chair of the International Organization of Securities Commissions said: “As climate-related risks and opportunities are becoming increasingly apparent to investors and relevant for market stability, we welcome the NZDPU initiative to allow full access to, and to facilitate the interpretation of, private sector climate transition-related data. In today’s digitized and globalized world, high-quality and accessible climate data have a pivotal role to play. Since IOSCO has given its endorsement to the ISSB first standards, we are pleased to see that the first version of the NZDPU core data model builds on this framework; we will continue to encourage their implementation and use globally.”

Shigeru Ariizumi, Vice Minister for International Affairs, Japan Financial Services Agency (FSA) said: “The FSA welcomes the launch of the NZDPU Proof of Concept, which marks a significant milestone in collecting climate transition-related data to promote transition finance and accelerate decarbonization efforts. We believe that the NZDPU will play an important role and look forward to and support its further enhancements based on public consultation and continuous input from stakeholders.”

Ravi Menon, Managing Director of the Monetary Authority of Singapore and Chair of the Network for Greening the Financial System said: “Credible and comparable data is foundational for financial institutions and the real economy to effectively decarbonize and transition to net zero. A lack of high-quality climate data has been a longstanding challenge. We expect the NZDPU to help stakeholders such as financial institutions better manage their climate risks, channel capital to transition-aligned activities, and demonstrate their accountability and progress in net-zero commitments.”

Daniela Stoffel, State Secretary for International Finance in the Swiss Federal Department of Finance and founding member of the Climate Data Steering Committee said: “Just as Switzerland plays a unique and crucial role in the global financial system, our financial institutions will have a unique and crucial role to play in accelerating the transition to Net-Zero. We have seen the potential of the NZDPU initiative and are proud to encourage Swiss financial institutions to actively participate in the testing, development, and wide adoption of this important platform.”

Ashley Alder, Chair of the UK Financial Conduct Authority said: “I am very encouraged to see the great progress that has been made in developing the NZDPU proof of concept. I believe that the team is truly bringing to life the vision that was set out in the CDSC’s 2022 whitepaper. We, the FCA, see the Utility as an important element of the future transition data ecosystem – providing data in a comparable, consistent and openly-accessible manner that the market urgently needs. We also see valuable alignment between the Utility and the work of the UK’s Transition Plan Taskforce and see a future where these initiatives work in harmony to drive international progress on the global transition to net zero. The FCA looks forward to contributing to the continued development of the NZDPU.”

Catherine McKenna, Chair of the UN Secretary-General’s High-level Expert Group on Net-Zero Commitments said: “Publishing company climate data and plans through the Net-Zero Data Public Utility in a consistent format will help investors make smart decisions, encourage more companies to disclose their actions and identify strategic areas for improvement, and allow the public to see which companies are leading the way. To be successful we all need to be able to distinguish leaders from laggards and encourage a race to top for credible net-zero action.”

Nellie Liang, Under Secretary for Domestic Finance at the U.S. Treasury said: “The NZDPU will enable financial market participants to have access to climate-related data that can help them make better informed investment and financing decisions. I welcome the launch of the NZDPU proof of concept and its potential to democratize access to high-quality, comparable climate-related data.”

Sherry Madera, Chief Executive Officer at CDP said: “CDP is delighted to have our trusted data power the NZDPU proof of concept, putting the weight of our global environmental disclosure system behind it. As CDP aligns our platform with incoming reporting standards, we look forward to continuing to collaborate with our partners at the NZDPU and UNFCCC to drive harmonization efforts. This is indicative of our shared mission of increasing the standardization of and access to core climate and nature data. It is also testament to CDP’s commitment to ensuring our quality data is used for public good, has maximum impact and limits the reporting burden on companies by avoiding duplicative reporting.”

David Schwimmer, CEO at LSEG (London Stock Exchange Group) said: “Accessible, consistent and reliable climate data is essential for enabling the transition to a net-zero economy. The launch of the NZDPU proof of concept, alongside the ISSB’s global baseline reporting standards in June 2023, marks significant progress in addressing climate data gaps. As jurisdictions move towards adopting ISSB-aligned disclosure requirements, the NZDPU will play a vital role in providing centralized access to core climate data for companies. This open platform will create greater transparency, empowering stakeholders, including corporations, financial institutions, and regulators, to understand, monitor and enable the climate transition.”

Kunal Kapoor, CEO at Morningstar said: “Morningstar is an enthusiastic member of the Net-Zero Data Public Utility effort. This work delivers a unified, global, high-quality climate data repository and we’re proud that our shared commitment to transparency will ensure access for all audiences.”

Henry Fernandez, Chairman and CEO at MSCI said: “Transitioning to a net-zero economy will require a thorough understanding of climate risks and opportunities, which we can achieve through consistent, transparent, and dependable data. As a provider of climate-focused investment tools and solutions, MSCI supports the creation of a publicly available infrastructure that provides all stakeholders with open access to company-level climate data that can inform decision-making and drive meaningful action.”

Dr. Richard Mattison, Vice Chair of S&P Global Sustainability and Chief Executive Officer of S&P Global Trucost said: “We welcome the NZDPU proof of concept, which demonstrates its potential to become a useful component of the evolving climate data ecosystem, facilitating corporate disclosure to centralized repository.”

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