Supply chains are complex and global.

A transparent carbon footprint of supply chains

Sharing standards and tools for reporting environmental footprint data can increase trust and unlock innovation as companies work towards their sustainability targets and strive to lower emissions across value chains.

By Johan Krebbers, General Manager for Emerging Digital Technologies and Vice President for information technology innovation. on Jul 7, 2021

Shell became a founding member of The Open Group Open FootprintTM Forum because we believe collaboration is key to enable digital innovations that benefit multiple industry sectors. We brought into this collaboration our expertise in digital technologies and data architecture for emissions management.

An open access tool for greenhouse gas emissions data

The Minimal Viable Product One (MVP1) of the Open Footprint Forum will deliver a data platform with a standardised data model, based on open standards, and one set of application program interfaces (APIs) to access the data. It will be open source and free for anyone to use. As a cross-industry group, we are building an open environment that enables parties to work together toward a common ambition: take effective actions to avoid, reduce, and offset emissions across value chains.

The Open Footprint Forum’s open access tools are applicable to all industries and products. Companies will be able to store their greenhouse gas emissions data in a standardised way.

The APIs makes is possible for companies to develop compatible digital applications, including using artificial intelligence technology, thus stimulating innovation. Applications will run on a user’s information technology (IT) environment – including in the cloud – to analyse the reported data. Each company will remain the owner of their data and can selectively make it available to others.

Open access to address the measurement and reporting challenge

Data standards are required to help companies and those who scrutinize them understand emissions reporting and accounting, especially across global supply chains. Crucially, accurate and interoperable data is essential to take effective action to avoid, reduce, and offset greenhouse gas emissions. Today, differences in existing reporting standards across jurisdictions and industries make it difficult to collate and aggregate this information.

“An open source, data driven, digital platform to define, store and exchange environmental footprint data enables organisations to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, encourages collaboration and democratizes innovation.”

Sourabh Roy, Global Director – Energy Digital, Infosys Ltd

Digital technologies can help us overcome this burden and innovate from the data, provided it is interoperable. That is why the Open Footprint Forum members defined environmental key performance indicators which are at the base of the open source data platform. The MVP1 will focus on so called Scope 1 and 2 greenhouse gas emissions. It means that applications developed on the APIs can process data about the direct emissions from sources owned or controlled by the reporting company as well as indirect emissions from the generation of purchased electricity, steam, heating, and cooling consumed by that company.

Make the most of everyone’s data

The open data standards mean that businesses will no longer be spending significant resources collecting or storing the data. Instead, they will be empowered to focus on analysing the data and developing new digital solutions to reduce their overall environmental footprint.

“We joined the Open Footprint Forum as an independent verifier and certifier because we share it’s vision to bring trust and transparency of environmental footprint data in the global value chain through technology innovations” says

Arjen van de Voort, global account manager at Intertek.

The 29 active members of the Open Footprint Forum, along with the 77 other members of The Open Group, share a vision to enable real-time connection between companies from multiple industries. The data platform brings consistency, scalability and supportability of the data to drive adoption. It is also very important that it offers a high degree of flexibility because measuring, reporting and verifying emissions and environmental footprints is a fast-moving space in which regulations will change and priorities will evolve.

A first step towards holistic environmental footprint data reporting

The data platform could, eventually, extend beyond greenhouse gas emissions to include other environmental indicators such as water usage, landfill usage and plastics recycling performance.

Over time, our aim is that the base calculations for normalising and aggregating data will allow more accurate reporting of a company’s total carbon footprint. That includes emissions from its supply chain which are part of the so-called Scope 3 emissions.

Scope 3 emissions - indirect emissions that occur on behalf of a company’s value chain – account for around 90% or Shell’s carbon footprint. Addressing these emissions to deliver our climate target requires a precise understanding of the environmental footprint of our value chain.

This is the next challenge the Open Footprint Forum will address: A second product aims to focus on emission calculations and provide a framework for reporting Scope 3 emission. In the long run, companies using these tools should be able to report on environmental footprints at both the company and product levels.

Foundational technology such as blockchain could be built into the tool. It would increase trust in the data and help prove compliance with regulatory requirements. Collaboration and sharing technology via open access digital platforms will play an increasingly important role in the acceleration of the energy transition across industries. No company has all the answers. That is why Shell believes that open data standards are central to empower corporations, governments, and consumers to effectively act upon environmental footprint data and therefore we will continue to play an active role in the collaborative forums such as the Open Footprint Forum.


To find out more about the strategy of the Open Footprint Forum going forwards, listen here to Johan Krebbers at the Open Group Open Footprint Forum Global Event June 2021.

Johan Krebbers is General Manager for emerging technologies in Shell’s digital center of excellence and the Vice President for information technology (IT) innovation.


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