overnments across the United States are for the first time regulating greenhouse gas emissions. This entirely new and emergent body of law in response to climate change is bursting onto the scene in 2024 and businesses are beginning to monetize it as a new revenue stream.
If it is January 1, 2024, most commercial building owners not already measuring greenhouse gas emissions for reporting to the government under the Maryland Climate Solutions Now Act of 2022, may be in violation of law. In New York City Local Law 97 the mandatory reporting period of greenhouse gas emissions data for many commercial buildings also begins January 1, 2024. Other states, from Colorado to Washington and cities from Washington, DC to St. Louis, are all regulating greenhouse gas emissions through building energy performance standards.
Also, pending, and likely to be finalized in April 2024 are the SEC 2022 proposed rule requiring greenhouse gas emission disclosure by public companies, the DOD, GSA, and NASA proposed amendment to the Federal Acquisition Regulation requiring federal contractors to disclose greenhouse gas emissions, the Federal Tade Commission updated Green Guides, and a patchwork of other government GHG emission disclosure mandates.
Additionally, more than 1,000 public companies have publicly announced a net zero greenhouse gas emission goal. And over 9,000 private businesses have a publicly stated net zero target. This does not include the many companies that are green hushing and green bleaching, with greenhouse gas emission goals but are not publicly heralding them.
Moreover, at least 195 countries (.. there are only 197) have made public net zero greenhouse gas emission pledges as have more than 1,000 cities.
So, measuring and reporting greenhouse gas emissions is a thing.
Of course, the extrapolations from those numbers are exponentially larger when one considers if the owner of a commercial building is subject to a BEPS law, then all the tenants in that building are also measuring and reporting greenhouse gas emissions. As such the more than 90% of businesses in the U.S. that are a tenant in the building they occupy, and also the more than 34% of the U.S. population that lives in an apartment, will all have their greenhouse gas emission data reported to the government.
Concomitantly, at a time when the world’s most valuable resource is no longer oil, but data, greenhouse gas emission data, including underlying electric utility data, creates privacy and security implications as described in our blog post, Do You Own Your GHG Emission Data? (.. think Cambridge Analytica on steroids). We are working with increasing numbers of businesses in monetizing their data. Yes, there are literally Trillions of dollars involved, as described in Tenants Monetizing their Greenhouse Gas Emission Data.
There is a dark side to this big, hairy, audacious goal of measuring and reducing greenhouse gas emissions; what if government gets it wrong in its mandates? There is trepidation that Maryland’s recently proposed BEPS regulations go too far and will wreck the state’s economy when it seeks to put an absolute cap on energy use across the state through sophomoric energy use intensity (EUI) regulation. In lieu of apocalyptic environmentalism policies, seeking to drastically reduce consumption in a quest to not overwhelm the planet’s ecosystems, like capping EUI, states like Maryland would be better served advancing techno optimism by offering government incentives for carbon capture, clean hydrogen facilities, bio energy, solar panel construction and more.
The best solutions in 2024 and beyond to the breadth and scope of the globe’s environmental issues will be found by businesses. Business owners in increasing numbers understand the need to mitigate climate risk and many companies with forethought are already seizing upon the multi Trillion dollar economic opportunity that accompanies the economy’s decarbonizing.
The certainty that greenhouse gas emission measurement and reduction is “the” environmental issue of 2024 is more than a Magic 8 Ball prediction, although we regularly consult one of the 1960s era plastic spheres I keep on my desk. In fourth quarter 2021 inquiries about greenhouse gas emissions were less than 5% of requests to our law firm versus in fourth quarter 2023 they were more than 50% of all inquiries! While we have been doing greenhouse gas emission work, both law and non law, for years, it is now our fastest growing area of effort. If we have not already calculated the greenhouse gas emissions for your building, it is your loss; quite likely, literally your loss in monetizing this as a new revenue stream. Reach out to us, now, and we can put you on a path to greenhouse gas emission calculation and reporting excellence.
The greenhouse gas issue just coming into focus in 2024 is reducing food waste. Not only is there all the energy and water it takes to grow, harvest, transport, and package food that is wasted, but food that goes to the landfill, the most common material in landfills, rots producing methane, a greenhouse gas 28 times more potent than carbon dioxide. Composting food waste will be de rigueur in 2024.
The pendant issue “with a bullet” in 2024 is working to eliminate modern slavery in business supply chains. While garnering nowhere near the attention of greenhouse gas emissions, this human rights issue is already of great import in the EU and is garnering increased attention in the US.
Despite some uncertainty ahead in 2024, last year’s cost inflation appears behind us. Decarbonization of the world’s economies is the biggest business opportunity in history, waiting to be unlocked.
We invite you to join us in undertaking this epic business venture, decarbonizing economies – to repair the planet and make your share of the Trillions along the way.