GRI Reporting for Coal Sector

GRI Reporting for Coal Sector

"Coal sector addressing ESG challenges: climate, environment, responsible mining, worker safety, community engagement, driving sustainability and low-carbon transition"

Why Coal ?

Coal consumption remains significant in many parts of the world, particularly in developing countries where it is a key source of energy for power generation and industrial processes. Despite global efforts to transition to cleaner energy sources, coal continues to play a substantial role in the energy mix of several countries.

China is the largest consumer of coal, accounting for roughly half of the global coal consumption. It heavily relies on coal for electricity generation and industrial production. 

India, the United States, and several other countries also have substantial coal consumption, driven by their energy needs and industrial sectors.

However, coal consumption has been declining in some regions, primarily driven by efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and shift towards cleaner alternatives. 

Many countries are investing in renewable energy sources, natural gas, and implementing policies to phase out coal-fired power plants.

The role of coal in the global energy landscape remains a topic of debate, balancing the need for energy security and economic development with the urgency of addressing climate change and transitioning to cleaner energy sources.

The significance of this Standard?

This  GRI 12: Coal Sector 2021 Standard aims to provide coal companies with specific guidance on reporting their sustainability performance in a comprehensive and consistent manner.

This sector focuses on addressing the unique ESG impacts and challenges associated with the coal sector, including aspects such as greenhouse gas emissions, energy use, health and safety, community engagement, and environmental management. It provides coal companies with a structured framework to assess and disclose their sustainability practices and impacts.

It holds significant importance for the coal industry and its stakeholders. Here are some key reasons why this standard is significant:

  1. Sector-specific guidance: The standard provides specific guidance tailored to the unique challenges and impacts of the coal sector. It helps coal companies identify and report on material sustainability issues relevant to their operations, enabling a more comprehensive and accurate disclosure of their ESG performance.

  2. Improved transparency and accountability: By following the Sector Standard, coal companies can enhance transparency and accountability in their reporting. It promotes consistent and comparable disclosure of sustainability information, allowing stakeholders to better understand the environmental, social, and governance practices of coal companies.

  3. Addressing stakeholder concerns: The standard helps address the increasing expectations and concerns of stakeholders, including investors, communities, and NGOs, regarding the environmental and social impacts of the coal industry. It enables coal companies to provide more comprehensive and reliable information on their efforts to mitigate environmental risks, promote responsible mining practices, and engage with affected communities.

  4. Facilitating industry-wide progress: The standard supports the coal sector’s transition towards more sustainable practices. It encourages companies to measure, manage, and disclose their sustainability performance, promoting continuous improvement and innovation within the sector. The standard’s adoption can facilitate knowledge sharing and collaboration among coal companies to address shared challenges.

Sector standards plays a crucial role in promoting transparency, accountability, and sustainability within the coal industry. It helps coal companies demonstrate their commitment to responsible practices and enables stakeholders to make informed decisions based on reliable sustainability information.


To what organizations does GRI 12 apply?

The GRI Sector Program for Coal, known as GRI 12, applies to the following organizations:

  1. Exploration and extraction of coal: This includes companies involved in coal mining activities, including exploration, extraction, and production of coal from mining operations.

  2. Suppliers of equipment and services to coal mines: This category encompasses companies that provide equipment, machinery, technology, and services to support coal mining operations, such as manufacturers of mining equipment, engineering firms, and logistics providers.

  3. Storage and transportation: Organizations involved in the storage and transportation of coal fall under this category. This includes companies engaged in coal storage, handling, logistics, and transportation, including rail, road, and maritime transportation.

  4. Refining and marketing of coal products: This category includes companies engaged in the refining, processing, and marketing of coal products. It encompasses activities such as coal washing, processing, and preparation for various coal-based products and markets.

These organizations are the key players within the coal sector and are subject to the specific reporting requirements and guidelines outlined in the GRI Sector Program for Coal (GRI 12). 

The program provides sector-specific guidance and indicators to assist these organizations in reporting their environmental, social, and governance (ESG) performance in a comprehensive and consistent manner.

Why coal separated from oil and gas sector?

The separation of coal from oil and gas  within the GRI Sector Standards could be attributed to the following reasons:

  1. Unique sustainability challenges: Coal, oil, and gas have distinct environmental and social impacts. Coal extraction and combustion, in particular, are associated with significant environmental concerns such as air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. By separating coal from oil and gas, GRI can provide more specific guidance and indicators that address the unique sustainability challenges of the coal sector.

  2. Different transition paths: The transition to a low-carbon economy involves different strategies and approaches for each fossil fuel. While the oil and gas sector is also transitioning towards cleaner energy sources, the transition pathways and technological advancements differ between coal and oil/gas. Separating coal allows for a more focused approach to addressing the specific transition challenges faced by the coal industry.

  3. Stakeholder considerations: Stakeholders, including investors, communities, and NGOs, may have expressed the need for separate reporting and transparency within the coal sector. The separation of coal from oil and gas recognizes the specific concerns and expectations of stakeholders related to coal mining, environmental impacts, and the just transition away from coal.

  4. Enhanced sector-specific reporting: By having a dedicated Sector Standard for coal, organizations in the coal sector can benefit from more targeted reporting requirements and indicators that are tailored to their specific activities and impacts. This allows for more accurate and meaningful reporting on the sustainability performance of coal-related activities.

GRI 12 and SASB’s Coal Operations Industry Standard?

The difference between GRI 12: Coal Sector 2021 and SASB’s Coal Operations Industry Standard lies in their respective frameworks, focus areas, and reporting requirements. Here are some key distinctions:

  1. Reporting Framework: GRI (Global Reporting Initiative) and SASB (Sustainability Accounting Standards Board) use different reporting frameworks. GRI follows a comprehensive sustainability reporting framework that covers a wide range of economic, environmental, and social aspects. SASB, on the other hand, focuses specifically on financially material sustainability topics for specific industries.

  2. Scope: GRI 12: Coal Sector 2021 provides guidance for reporting organizations involved in the coal sector, including coal exploration, extraction, transportation, and refining. It covers a broad range of sustainability issues relevant to the coal industry. SASB’s Coal Operations Industry Standard focuses specifically on the operational aspects of coal mining and processing.

  3. Materiality: GRI emphasizes a stakeholder engagement process to identify and prioritize material topics for reporting, considering the perspectives of various stakeholders. SASB’s standards focus on financially material sustainability topics that are relevant to investors and are determined through industry-specific research and consultation.

  4. Reporting Requirements: GRI 12 provides a set of general disclosures and specific indicators for organizations in the coal sector to report on their environmental, social, and governance (ESG) performance. SASB’s Coal Operations Industry Standard includes industry-specific disclosure topics, metrics, and accounting principles that are financially material for investors.

It is important to note that GRI and SASB have different approaches and objectives in their sustainability reporting standards. GRI aims for comprehensive reporting across a wide range of sustainability issues, while SASB focuses on financially material ESG topics for investors. Organizations may choose to adopt one or both frameworks based on their reporting goals and stakeholder expectations.

GRI and SASB join guidance

While GRI and SASB have developed separate sustainability reporting standards, they have recognized the value of using their standards together to fulfill reporting needs. The joint guidance document, “A Practical Guide to Sustainability Reporting Using GRI and SASB Standards,” explores the experiences of companies that have successfully integrated both sets of standards in their reporting processes.

The guide aims to assist organizations in aligning and integrating the GRI Standards and SASB Standards effectively. It provides practical examples and insights from companies that have used both frameworks to enhance their sustainability reporting. The focus is on leveraging the strengths of each framework to provide a comprehensive and financially material view of an organization’s sustainability performance.

By using GRI and SASB standards together, companies can provide a broader range of sustainability information to meet the needs of various stakeholders, including investors, while also addressing the specific industry-specific issues covered by SASB. This collaborative approach allows organizations to enhance the completeness and relevance of their sustainability disclosures.

The joint guidance document serves as a valuable resource for organizations seeking to leverage the benefits of both GRI and SASB standards and integrate them effectively into their sustainability reporting processes. It provides practical insights, examples, and recommendations for aligning the two frameworks and fulfilling reporting requirements.



ESG Consultant / BD / Author @
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