Have you heard of the NZDPU?
Another acronym, you may say, but this one heralds an earthquake in global extra-financial data sovereignty.
On 21 September 2022, on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly, the Climate Data Steering Committee approved the creation of a new public open-data platform: the Net Zero Data Platform Utility (NZDPU). It aims to address the lack of climate data, its inconsistencies and the difficulties in accessing it, thus slowing down climate action.
This is indeed necessary. Consider that today, most climate data is only available through commercial subscriptions, making it difficult for the public and many institutions to access it. Data is often presented in proprietary formats, making it more difficult to aggregate information or compare the performance of companies across sources. Data quality is improving rapidly, but there are still gaps and inconsistencies.
This idea of an open source platform is therefore welcome to speed up access to consistent and free information, but it is not new, and it was even France that first had the idea. On the occasion of the One Planet international conference organised on 28 October 2021 in France, President Emmanuel Macron had already announced the launch of the "One Planet Data Hub", a platform that was to centralize information relating to the private sector's commitments to the low-carbon transition. The One Planet Data hub was to serve as a global observatory to make it easier to monitor financial flows.
Unfortunately, the French initiative has been absorbed by the international initiative, with a less transparent project and with a mainly American and opaque governance. For example, there are questions about the governance of Climate Data Steering Committee (its composition and the appointment of its members) or the composition of the data providers' committee (currently only American representatives, whereas one seat per country would allow an equal representation) and finally about the choice of the data (who will decide on the source of data, particularly for the famous Scope 3, on the one hand, between data providers, and on the other hand, between reported or modelled data?)
The NZDPU project is led by the UN Special Envoy for Climate Ambition and Solutions, Michael Bloomberg. Its committee is chaired by the Glasgow Financial Alliance for Net Zero (GFANZ)'s Vice President Mary Schapiro. The committee does include representatives from international organisations and regulators.
There's currently a consultation to choose the provider who'll develop this open source platform. Let's hope that the chosen consortium is European to rebalance the forces in the governance of the NZPDU.
It's important that Europe, which has always been a pioneer in the regulation of climate data, is better represented in this body and takes its place in the governance of extra-financial data.
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