NAU introduces new certificate to address growing workforce needs in area of climate change mitigation

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As climate change increasingly becomes an investment risk for U.S. companies, NAU is introducing a new certificate program for greenhouse gas (GHG) accounting to help working professionals gain the skills needed to address climate change at the corporate or organizational level.

The non-credit certificate program, which is fully online and self-directed, trains students on the best practices and requirements for quantifying, reporting and analyzing the GHG emissions associated with a company and how to use reported emissions to design effective emission reduction strategies. These skills will be critical as more companies are required to account for their individual emissions.

“We cannot manage what we don’t measure,” said Deborah Huntzinger, a professor in the School of Earth and Sustainability and certificate program director. “To design effective policies, whether at the corporate or national level, to mitigate rising emissions and human-driven climate change, we need to accurately track emissions. Robust training in the best practices in GHG accounting will lead to a more educated workforce that can better inform corporate, organizational, community and national discussions about effective climate change mitigation strategies.”

Huntzinger and Brenda Sipe, director of continuing education for NAU Online, created the certificate program, which includes four courses taught by Huntzinger and carbon analyst Heather Aaron. The courses start Jan. 30, and all four can be completed in four to eight months. The cost for each course is $499. Learn more and register online.

NAU also offers a graduate certificate for students who want to add to graduate work in other fields. Learn more about the program.

What is greenhouse gas accounting?

Greenhouse gas (GHG) accounting refers to the process of quantifying the amount of GHGs emitted by an organization, company or community. Fossil fuel-based energy consumption is the most significant driver of global human-caused GHG emissions. For corporations, fossil fuels can be consumed directly within the company’s operational boundaries, or indirectly somewhere along their value chain. The types of activities that drive both direct and indirect fossil fuel consumption are diverse and wide-ranging, making the accounting process a unique challenge for corporations.

Who benefits from this certificate?

The certificate is designed for anyone wanting to gain foundational skills and knowledge in the area of GHG accounting. The not-for-credit version is targeted toward working professionals. It is entirely online, self-paced and designed in collaboration with carbon analysts working in the industry. NAU also offers a for-credit version for graduate students that can be taken as part of their current degree program or as a stand-alone certificate.

Why do businesses need GHS accounting?

It makes good business sense. Companies can get ahead of regulatory and policy changes, identify and tackle potential risks and find opportunities to reduce that risk. Reducing emissions also typically correlates with lower energy consumption and costs. Finally, investors and customers are demanding disclosure of climate risk. In terms of investors, climate risk (e.g., GHG liability) is an investment risk. As a result, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) proposed a rule change that would require all publicly traded companies in the U.S. to report their climate-related financial risk, which includes disclosing their GHG emissions inventory. This is an opportunity for companies to be proactive.

“Since the largest sources of GHG emissions are typically tied to fossil fuel consumption, quantifying these emissions and identifying reduction opportunities can save companies money in the long run,” Huntzinger said. “Reducing GHG emissions usually correlates with reducing energy consumption and costs.”

NAU Communications