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Autodesk open-sources carbon accounting method

The software maker is encouraging other companies to track and reduce greenhouse gas emissions based on long-term global targets and contribution to GDP.

Autodesk is making a revised method for tracking greenhouse gas emissions available for free to other companies.

The design software company on Monday published the results of its own program to reduce its environmental footprint. It also open-sourced its methodology, called Corporate Finance Approach to Climate-Stabilizing Targets (C-FACT).

Although many companies do track their greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs), there is not a standardized way for setting targets or reporting that data in the U.S.

Autodesk's methodology is based on the the long-term target of reducing global emissions by 85 percent by 2050, set by United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. From there, companies can set targets based on their relative contribution to global gross domestic product.

"Corporate GHG target setting has become a little like the Wild West, with few laws, little scrutiny, and quite a bit of aimless shooting," said Emma Stewart, senior program lead for Autodesk's sustainability initiative, in a statement. Autodesk is encouraging others to use the method because the targets will be proportional to a company's economic contribution.

The company has committed to using the C-FACT method through 2020. From 2008 to 2009, its greenhouse gas footprint increased by 1 percent. But its revenue grew during that period, so the "carbon intensity per unit of added value" dropped. Carbon intensity by square foot and per employee also dropped in the period.