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DRPS : Course Catalogue : Business School : Common Courses (Management School)

Postgraduate Course: Carbon Accounting (CMSE11485)

Course Outline
SchoolBusiness School CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 11 (Postgraduate) AvailabilityNot available to visiting students
SCQF Credits10 ECTS Credits5
SummaryThe course aims to provide students with an understanding of the range of measurement, calculation, reporting and auditing - in short, accounting - requirements and challenges related to climate change and the policy responses to climate change. Students will come away from the course with the skills to both implement and critique carbon accounting methods.
Course description The course provides an overview of the different forms of carbon accounting, and their different purposes, particularly their application to climate change finance. The conceptual distinction between 'attributional' and 'consequential' accounting methods will be used to analyse the nature and appropriate use of different methods.

The course develops both practical knowledge for implementing different carbon accounting methods, and analytical skills for critiquing current accounting and reporting practice. We will explore the relationship between carbon accounting and carbon/climate finance, and the different information needs of different types of investor (e.g. impact investors and climate risk-conscious investors).

The course complements the Carbon Pricing course, covering aspects of monitoring, reporting and verification (MRV) for regulated entities within trading schemes. The course interfaces with the Climate Policy course, and the Climate Risk and Investment Alignment course, by exploring the estimation and allocation of carbon budgets consistent with a 1.5 or 2 degree global temperature change target. The course also complements the Baseline-and-Credit Methods option course by introducing methods for calculating changes in emissions, and the Sustainable Finance course by introducing portfolio carbon footprinting.

Outline Content

1. Overview of the different forms of carbon accounting and their different purposes
2. Life cycle assessment
3. Corporate-level carbon accounting
4. Portfolio carbon footprinting
5. Carbon auditing and validation
6. Carbon accounting at the national and community level
7. Carbon budgets and mitigation targets
8. Consequential carbon accounting
9. Ethical issues associated with carbon accounting

Student Learning Experience
The course includes a number of guest speakers, either in person or via Skype. This provides useful real-world insights alongside the more theoretical aspects of the course.
The course will be taught through weekly lectures and will generally include a case study, group exercise or other interactive discussion component.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2020/21, Not available to visiting students (SS1) Quota:  None
Course Start Block 1 (Sem 1)
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 100 ( Lecture Hours 8, Seminar/Tutorial Hours 5, Formative Assessment Hours 10, Summative Assessment Hours 35, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 2, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 40 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 100 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) Report (Individual) 50% Assesses LO1, LO3, LO4
Excel personal carbon footprint assignment (Individual) 50% Assesses LO2
Feedback Formative verbal feedback will be provided to the students each week during lectures/discussion sessions, based on the weekly in-class exercises. Feedback will be provided by the Course Organiser, and also by peers within the class. Feedback will also be given on the summative assignments.
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Understand and critically discuss the range of measurement, calculation, reporting and auditing requirements related to climate change finance.
  2. Apply methods at the forefront of carbon accounting practice.
  3. Critically evaluate the appropriate use of different methods for specific purposes.
  4. Understand and critically discuss ethical issues related to carbon accounting choices.
Reading List
Indicative Reading List

Brander, M. (2016) 'Transposing lessons between different forms of consequential greenhouse gas accounting: lessons for consequential life cycle assessment, project-level accounting, and policy-level accounting', Journal of Cleaner Production. Elsevier Ltd, 112, pp. 4247-4256. doi: 10.1016/j.jclepro.2015.05.101.

Brander, M., Gillenwater, M. and Ascui, F. (2018) 'Creative accounting: A critical perspective on the market-based method for reporting purchased electricity (scope 2) emissions', Energy Policy, 112. doi: 10.1016/j.enpol.2017.09.051.

ISO (2018) ISO 14064-1 - Specification with guidance at the organization level for quantification and reporting of greenhouse gas. Geneva, Switzerland.

Searchinger, T. et al. (2008) 'Use of U.S. croplands for biofuels increases greenhouse gases through emissions from land-use change.', Science, 319(5867), pp. 1238-40. doi: 10.1126/science.1151861.

WBCSD/WRI (2004) Greenhouse Gas Protocol: A Corporate Accounting and Reporting Standard. Geneva, Switzerland and Washington, DC, USA.

Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Knowledge and Understanding

After completing this course, students should have:
- A critical understanding of most of the methods, concepts and terminology related to carbon accounting.
- Detailed critical knowledge and understanding of developments at the forefront of carbon accounting.

Practice: Applied Knowledge, Skills and Understanding

After completing this course, students should be able to:
- Undertake a corporate/organisational greenhouse gas inventory and a product life cycle assessment.
- Critically evaluate the accuracy, transparency, comparability, completeness, and relevance of carbon disclosures.

Cognitive Skills

After completing this course, students should be able to:
- Critically evaluate and synthesize new and complex ideas.
- Make informed judgements in the absence of complete or consistent data.
- Offer creative solutions and insights on complex issues.

Communication, ICT, and Numeracy Skills

After completing this course, students should be able to:
- Communicate technical, conceptual and critical information clearly and concisely.
- Apply emission factors to activity data to calculate greenhouse gas emissions.

Autonomy, Accountability and Working with Others

After completing this course, students should be able to:
- Provide and receive peer-feedback.
- Cooperate with others from different professional, educational and cultural backgrounds.
KeywordsNot entered
Course organiserDr Matthew Brander
Tel: (0131 6)51 5547
Course secretaryMs Rhiannon Pilkington
Tel: (0131 6)50 8072
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