According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), nearly one-third of the energy used by humans is produced in the offshore environment, with oil and gas comprising 99% of global offshore energy production in 2018. Although offshore wind development is increasing, the IEA’s 2021 World Energy Outlook predicts liquid, gas, and solid fuels will continue to make a major contribution to the global energy mix through 2050.
The responsible exploitation of offshore energy (oil, gas, and wind) relies on the transparent disclosure of impacts and a shared culture of continuous improvement. The Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) is an organization that exists to create a framework for organizations to identify material topics for their specific business, examine and report impacts, and identify areas for improvement in the context of key Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) issues.
ESG “ratings” are increasingly business critical, being used by third-party agencies to assess corporations on the basis of ESG performance, which, in turn, can influence public perception and investment decisions. Neither ESG reporting nor the criteria used for establishing ESG ratings are standardized, and recent studies have found a lack of correlation between ESG ratings calculated by different rating agencies for the same company.
Amid the pressures of ESG ratings, climate change concerns, and rising global energy demand, guidance for sustainability reporting for specific sectors like the offshore oil and gas industry is crucial for individual businesses to report on material issues, improve governance, reduce impacts on the environment and society, and enact sustainable development goals.
The GRI provides specific guidance for the offshore oil and gas industry in its Universal Standards 2021 and in GRI 11: Oil and Gas Sector 2021. The GRI has also published guidance on Linking the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals and the GRI Standards, which maps the disclosures against the targets set under each of the 17 SDGs, making it easier to measure, track, and communicate progress on the Global Goals.
For more than 52 years, CSA scientists have assessed environmental and social impacts for hundreds of offshore energy exploration and development projects in the United States and internationally. Sustainability is an extension of impact assessment that requires integration of evolving standards, demands literacy, and necessitates ongoing professional development. CSA scientists Dr. Jodi Harney and Dr. Shane Abeare recently participated in a GRI certification course to sharpen their expertise in sustainability reporting with a specific focus on the offshore energy industry.
As more companies, particularly offshore energy companies, produce sustainability reports and publish ESG metrics, CSA scientists seek to support the growing interest in ESG and sustainability reporting for our offshore energy colleagues and clients, applying GRI standards, a fully comprehensive impact assessment approach, and developing dashboards to track metrics over time.
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