The OSR’s main purpose is to make climate impact data accessible to all by creating the leading collaborative, free and transparent sustainability data knowledge network. This is because data is pivotal in fighting climate change. In order for various actors to make use of data effectively to reach this goal, the data should meet certain quality standards. By taking a closer look at the underlying methodology of data production, one can evaluate the data quality. Data is, however, only as useful as it is practically employed. Ultimately, it is the right application of the data which makes it valuable in the fight against climate change. Defining how the data should or can be employed may enhance the practical application of the data. In this manner, establishing and setting certain standards is a great way to provide guidance for others on how the data can be used. The Organization for Sustainable Consumption has already established an ‘An Open Standard for consumer carbon calculations on the basis of standard payment transactions’ (short: Open Payment Standard). In addition, a ‘Product Standard’ as well as a ‘Digital Receipt Standard’ are being defined. All of these standards seek to provide a framework for approaches, debates and collaborations across the financial sector and sustainability-related businesses.
The Open Payment Standard is designed as a widely adoptable, actionable, and agency-centric framework and methodology for calculating individual carbon footprints of consumers based on bank transactions based on a so-called ‘transaction-to-carbon system’. A central benefit of this methodology is that country-level differences with regards to carbon footprint values are considered and that it can thus be adopted for any country (given that the necessary data for the calculations is available). The proposed methodology is straightforward and can be applied by anyone to produce the carbon footprint data. Bank transactions are grouped together into certain spending categories. For each of the proposed spending categories, a carbon footprint value (gram of CO2 per currency) can be calculated which takes into account the average value for CO2 emissions for the categories (specified in g/CO2) and the average consumer expenditures for the categories, specified in a specific currency (e.g. Euros) of a country.
While the proposed methodology can be employed to determine individual carbon footprints on the basis of country-specific data, it is possible to calculate an even more precise carbon footprint by including more data in the calculations. For instance, one can include merchant-based data or product-based data to further improve the calculations. The Product Standard seeks to provide a framework for including product based carbon footprint data in the calculation of individual carbon footprints. Hence, while the Open Standard provides a basis for calculating individual carbon footprints based on bank transactions, the Product Standard may be viewed as a further step towards further refining the calculation methodology.
In contrast, the Digital Receipt Standard provides a framework for how digital receipt companies can include the individual carbon footprint data linked to purchases, which can be calculated based on the methodology laid out in the Open Banking Standard, on their digital receipts. Digital receipt companies generally use a categorization scheme for the transactions. In other words, they classify the transactions according to certain spending categories. As companies usually use their own categorization scheme, it is necessary to map or link these spending categories with the spending categories from the Open Banking Standard. In doing so, this mapping facilitates digital receipt companies to offer their customers an estimation of their individual carbon footprints based on their transactions.