The Handbook of Carbon Accounting

Carbon Accounting is a vital tool in enabling organisations to measure and report on their greenhouse gas emissions. As the need to respond to the causes and impacts of climate change becomes increasingly urgent, emissions calculations and inventories are a vital first step towards mastering climatic risk. 

The Handbook of Carbon Accounting offers an accessible and comprehensive presentation of the discipline. The book examines the different methods or instruments implemented by countries and companies – such as carbon taxation, carbon markets and voluntary offsetting – while revealing how these stem not simply from the aim of reducing emissions for the lowest cost, but more as a compromise between divergent interests and individual world views. It also explores the historical context of the emergence of carbon accounting, assessing its evolution since the Rio Conference in 1992 and the signing of the Kyoto Protocol in 1997, to the latest Conference of Parties in 2015 in Paris.

The book concludes with a very practical guide to calculate, reduce, offset and disclose your carbon footprint.

Like other management tools, carbon accounting may not be an exact science, but its contribution has never been more important. The Handbook of Carbon Accounting is a vital educational resource that will help readers – including those with no prior knowledge of the field – to understand carbon flows and stocks and to take action. It forms part of a movement that heralds the start of a new economic era in which the search for prosperity can live in harmony with the environment.

This is a timely and accessible book and a must-read for all decision makers and professionals working in the fields of sustainability, building performance and climate change adaptation. Brohé clearly outlines the challenges, basic principles and approaches of the subject within the complex context of this inexact but vital science. Simple language, a clear structure and useful worked examples help the reader to understand the regulatory and voluntary drivers involved and how they should, can and must increasingly use Carbon Accounting to inform and monitor their own activities.  

Professor Susan Roaf, Chair of the UK Carbon Accounting Initiative

Carbon accounting is a topic that is usually only discussed between specialists. This handbook not only provides insight into this essential issue for more general readers and managers, it offers clarity on this technical subject and practical examples of how to calculate a carbon footprint. A must-read for all those who are concerned about global warming and the effective ways to fight it.

Christian de Perthuis, Professor of Economics at the University of Paris-Dauphine, and Founder of the Climate Economics Chair

Given the need for urgent action on climate change, and the hope that carbon accounting can play an important role in enabling reductions in the emissions of greenhouse gases, this book is timely and likely to be a valuable resource to many who will need to account for carbon.

This is an informative text that provides both an historical context and a practical guide to carbon accounting. The book begins by providing a brief but informative introduction to the greenhouse effect and our current scientific understanding of its effects and political implications. The book not only covers how to account for the emission of greenhouse gases, but also looks at how these can be monetised through cost-benefit and cost effectiveness analyses as well as shadow prices. One of the strengths of this book is its integration of examples related to specific industries, for instance the aviation industry, and initiatives from many countries and supranational bodies. In particular the practical guide, including a broad range of topics from ‘How to engage my colleagues?’ to ‘How to reduce emissions in logistics?’, will provide a helpful resource to the many organisations attempting to develop their own carbon accounting systems. 

Stuart Cooper, Professor of Accounting, School of Economics, Finance & Management, University of Bristol

Table of Contents

Chapter 1: The birth of carbon accounting

Chapter 2: The basic principles of carbon accounting

Chapter 3: Official inventories: the territory based approach

Chapter 4: Voluntary inventories: the "footprint" approach

Chapter 5: Monetary inventories: what is the cost of a tonne of CO2?

Chapter 6: Internalising physico-chemical inventories in economic and political decisions

Annex: A Practical guide to calculate, reduce, offset and disclose your carbon footprint


List of acronyms and abbreviations



ARNAUD BROHÉ is CEO CO2logicInc, a leading international carbon advisory and carbon offsetting firm based in New York. He holds a PhD in Environmental Studies from the Free University of Brussels.

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