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Mounting concern over climate change around the world has resulted in a wide array of legislative, regulatory and voluntary responses for reporting and reduction of greenhouse gas emissions (GHG). Corporate and public interest in sustainability and climate change issues, and voluntary reporting of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions information, has grown significantly in the United States during the last decade. The number of U.S.-based companies seeking external assurance on their sustainability reports continues to grow. The majority of these companies are seeking a moderate level of assurance, or a review. While the existing attestation standards provide a framework for performing such services, the specific application guidance in this area needs to be developed.
The AICPA previously issued Statement of Position (SOP) 03-2, Attest Engagements on Greenhouse Gas Emissions Information, to provide guidance to CPAs on how to apply the attestation standards to GHG emissions reporting for an examination level of service with the expectation that it would be used to satisfy requirements for assurance in connection with GHG trading schemes or regulatory submissions.
However, the first requests coming through for assurance in the United States are not to satisfy regulatory requirements but, rather, appear to be from companies that are voluntarily looking to add more credibility to information that they are publicly reporting. As a result, they are seeking assurance for this purpose at a more cost-effective level than an examination.
To respond to this need, SOP 13-1 updates SOP 03-2 by including guidance on how to apply the attestation standards for a review engagement to the specific subject matter of GHG emissions information.
This SOP is an essential resource for practitioners performing GHG engagements, whether examinations or reviews, and provides guidance on performing and reporting: