Publications and media

Discover the latest developments, articles, and podcasts on E-liability and E-asset accounting.

November 2021: The E-liability accounting system was introduced as the first rigorous approach to ESG reporting in an article co-authored by Professors Robert Kaplan and Karthik Ramanna and published in the Harvard Business Review (HBR). The article went on to win the 2022 HBR-McKinsey Award for “groundbreaking management thinking”, which in turn kicked off a series of pilot adoptions of the method by organizations around the world.

April 2022: Effective greenhouse gas accounting needs to measure each company’s supply-chain carbon impacts accurately, providing visibility and incentives for it to make more climate-friendly product-specification and purchasing decisions. Our second HBR article explores how E-liability addresses current shortfalls in measuring and reducing carbon emissions in complex supply chains.

January 2023: Our co-founder, Karthik Ramanna, was interviewed on the Oxford Policy Pod on the issues with current approaches to environmental reporting and the advantages of E-liability as an auditable and verifiable accounting system.

April 2023: E-liability accounting will help customers factor in a product’s environmental footprint into their purchasing decisions and will help create a competition dynamic that leads to reduced carbon outputs. Two pilot studies by an Asian tire manufacturer and a German cement producer illustrate how the E-liability can do this.

May 2023: Our co-founder, Robert Kaplan, and Shirley Lu (Harvard) co-authored a teachable case study describing Harvard University’s consideration to decarbonize its supply chain by replacing cement with a low-carbon substitute. The case illustrates the flow of emissions along a simple supply chain, from manufacturing of the substitute to concrete production to Harvard University’s construction project.

June 2023: We need a feasible market solution to mitigate the long-term consequences from today’s carbon emissions. The use of financial instruments such as perpetual bonds can make considerable quantities of capital available to offset producers, spurring the production and the creation of spot markets in offsets that can definitively and reliably be netted against emissions.

June 2023: Our co-founder, Karthik Ramanna, was interviewed on the Sustainability Smartpod. He explains the basics of E-liability and makes the case for why companies, standards setters and regulators all around the world should familiarize themselves with the concept of E-liability.

August 2023: Markets for carbon trading function poorly, and many traded offsets do not actually perform as promised. Our co-founders offer E-assets as a solution, applying fundamental and well-established financial-accounting principles to improve the measurement and reporting of carbon offsets. Published in the HBR, the principles define what actually constitutes a carbon-offset E-asset, when can such an offset be traded in arms’-length exchanges, when can the asset be used to extinguish emissions liabilities, and who bears responsibility for reporting offset impairments after the underlying assets are destroyed, for instance, due to fire or deforestation.

October 2023: Our co-founder, Bob Kaplan, published an article in Issue 3 of the ThinkTank Net Zero Magazine on how E-liability accounting innovates standard carbon-measurement approaches.

November 2023: Companies are increasingly facing pressure from stakeholders, external and internal, to decarbonize their operations and mitigate their impact on climate change. Japanese electronics giant Hitachi Energy and three of its suppliers undertook an E-liability pilot to understand where CO2 emissions were produced in the value chain for the copper used to manufacture its transformers and how different sourcing of the copper would affect the quantity of emissions produced. Published in HBR, a key finding of the project was that recycled copper can produce significantly more CO2 emissions than mining copper, if the recycling process is itself high emitting and if the mining process is low-carbon.

November 2023: Kris Cooper from the Accountant spoke with our co-founders, Professors Bob Kaplan and Karthik Ramanna, Clare Adelgren (EY), and Nitin Jain (SAP Green Token) about the E-liability Institute’s proposal for carbon reporting where emissions occur, with blockchain and regulation driving adoption.

December 2023: Ian Gordon, Chair of IDG Group wrote a letter to the editor in the Economist on IDG’s experience with E-liability. IDG Group, which provides security services to the UN, has piloted the system in Afghanistan. Using E-liability, IDG has developed an approach to produce auditable figures for the carbon costs of the services it provides to the UN.

December 2023: Our co-founder, Bob Kaplan, was interviewed on the podcast about the E-ledger system (E-liability and E-asset), its use to improve the carbon offset markets, its relevance as it pertains to COP28, and what’s next.

February 2024: Our CEO, Michael Mahoney, spoke with Sabine Dembkowski on the Better Boards Ltd podcast about why climate change should be a priority for boards, why accurate climate-related measurement accounting matters, and how board members can ask the right questions.

February 2024: The E-liability carbon accounting algorithm supports companies to measure and subsequently reduce their own and their suppliers’ emissions. Some investors and stakeholders want companies to also be accountable for downstream emissions, those produced by their customers, their customers’ customers, and so on down a value chain. In this paper, we argue that companies should not be required to measure and be accountable for downstream emissions, and propose three principles for corporate disclosure of downstream emissions.

February 2024: Harvard University aims to be fossil-fuel neutral by 2026 and totally free of fossil fuels by 2050. Our co-founder, Professor Bob Kaplan, and Shirley Lu (Harvard) discuss the flow of emissions along the supply chain of Harvard University’s construction projects and the different methods of measuring carbon emissions, including the E-liability approach.

May 2024: ​​Soprema is an international building materials supplier, producing millions of square meters of waterproofing, insulating, and roofing products each year. In 2022, the company’s president and third-generation owner, committed to reporting the carbon footprint of each product on every customer invoice, and to help customers reduce the embedded GHG emissions in the products they purchased. This article describes how the E-liability pilot, which focused on the company’s bitumen waterproofing systems, unfolded at Soprema. The company estimates a potential carbon footprint reduction of 34% from the project.

May 2024: ​​The website of the WRI, the nonprofit parent entity of the GHG Protocol, recently posted a critique by Janet Ranganathan of the E-liability method. Some of our stakeholders asked us to issue a response to the critique. Below is our brief response.

June 2024: Effective June 30 2024, Mike Mahoney will be stepping down as Chief Executive of the E-liability Institute. He will continue to advise Professors Bob Kaplan and Karthik Ramanna on the Institute’s work as he pursues his focus on driving climate innovation in businesses and institutions.

July 2024: ​​An increasing number of companies are using the E-liability carbon-accounting method as an important tool for tracking progress toward reducing global emissions in their supply chains. The system does not require formal accounting for downstream emissions—those occurring after a company sells its products to immediate customers, for several good reasons. Certain companies, however, are accountable for disclosing downstream emissions generated by consumers’ use of their products. This article presents three principles to govern accountability, and explains how and to what standards of reliability the companies should disclose downstream emissions.