The folks behind the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP) have created an alliance with Accenture, SAP and Microsoft to create a new system for distributing reports containing data that outlines how much carbon is being emitted by corporations.
Under the terms of what CDP executives refer to as a consortium, CDP will be using SAP Business Objects BI OnDemand software-as-a-service hosted by Accenture to distribute analysis of carbon emissions across the globe. Microsoft's role in the effort will consist of helping to create a neutral framework for collecting that data in a way that will allow any company to use their existing applications to participate in the project.
Right now, roughly 2,500 companies report carbon emission data to the CDP. The CDP has concentrated on recruiting large corporations, so the companies participating in the project account for about half the carbon emissions in the world. By creating a process that now only makes it easier to distribute carbon emissions data, but also verifies its accuracy, CDP is hoping to entice millions of other companies to participate in the project.
To that end, CDP has also enlisted the aid of more than 475 institutional investors with combined assets of over $55 trillion, national governments and companies such as Wal-Mart to pressure companies to cooperate with CDP. The CDP is a registered philanthropy that as a non-profit draws funds from both philanthropists and private corporations. CDP executives described the funding for this project and the business relationship between the CDP, Accenture, Microsoft and SAP as being "complex."
SAP executives, however, did indicate that it is probable they would incorporate CDP data directly into various sustainability applications and that "carbon management" represents roughly a $10 billion business opportunity. An important subset of that opportunity will be carbon trading systems that will allow companies to buy and sell carbon credits on a global market once regulations for such a system are set up. Proponents of these systems are hoping that such a framework will be ironed out during upcoming meetings in Copenhagen that are expected to extend international environmental Kyoto accords that were originally set up in 1997.
A key underpinning of those systems would a CDP database that corporations could view as a trusted source of data on which carbon trading could be based.
According to SAP officials, the first dashboards based on the data that CDP collects should be ready by February 2010. CDP executives did stress, however, that no one IT vendor would have more access to its data than any other, but the non-profit does plan to generate revenue at some point by selling analysis of its data.
Whether you believe in global warming or not almost doesn't seem to matter at this juncture. What we're witnessing is nothing short of the unprecedented creation of an entire new "clean" industry that is almost entirely driven by IT. And that spells IT opportunity for everybody.