NAU Launches $2K ESG Climate Change Certification Program

December 15, 2022

By Corinne Murdock |

Northern Arizona University (NAU) launched a climate change program geared toward a career focused on corporations’ Environmental, Social, Governance (ESG) scoring. The program spans four courses, each costing $500 — $2,000 total. 

NAU announced the online, non-credit certificate program last week. The courses will prepare students for greenhouse gas (GHG) accounting. GHG is a key part of ESG. 

“[This will] help working professionals gain the skills needed to address climate change at the corporate or organizational level,” stated the press release.

In the program, students will quantify the greenhouse gas emissions from individual products or commodities, business or corporation operations, and local communities. Then, the students will propose and defend emission management, reduction, and mitigation strategies. 

NAU explained in its course description of the program that most large corporations were expanding GHG accounting hires at a rapidly multiplying pace. 

“Companies see aggressive emission reduction goals as good for business and a way to market themselves as climate-friendly. However, companies cannot manage what they don’t measure. Therefore, the need for skilled GHG accountants is growing exponentially,” stated NAU.

The university also pointed out that the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) proposed a rule change in March requiring all publicly traded companies to report their climate-related finance risk. 

The SEC rule would require companies to include these ESG findings in their registration statements and periodic reports. This would include governance and risk management processes of climate-related risks; the potential or current material impact of climate-related risks; the potential or current strategy, business model, and outlook impact of climate-related risks; and the impact of climate-related events on financials. It would also require disclosures of a GHG emissions target or goal, and GHG emissions from purchased electricity (or other energy forms) as well as upstream and downstream activities in its value chain.

SEC Chair Gary Gensler declared that mandatory ESG disclosure would better serve investors’ decision-making and hold corporations accountable. 

“I believe the SEC has a role to play when there’s this level of demand for consistent and comparable information that may affect financial performance,” said Gensler.

The timing of this course is significant, given that state leaders such as Treasurer Kimberly Yee oppose ESG. In September, Yee modified the state’s investment rules to prevent ESG ratings from investment considerations. 

NAU sustainability professor Deborah Huntzinger stated that environmental policymaking required quantifiable data that ESG approaches like GHG accounting offer. Huntzinger and NAU Online director of continuing education Brenda Sipe created the new GHG accounting program. 

“To design effective policies, whether at the corporate or national level, to mitigate rising emissions and human-driven climate change, we need to accurately track emissions,” stated Huntzinger. “Robust training in the best practices in GHG accounting will lead to a more educated workforce that can better inform corporate, organizational, community and national discussions about effective climate change mitigation strategies.”

Along with Huntzinger, carbon analyst Heather Aaron will teach the courses. 

The World Economic Forum (WEF), the globalist lobbying organization that serves as a pioneer for ESG scoring systems, identifies GHG accounting as a critical component of ESG. In a July publication, the WEF issued guidelines advising that GHG was key to quantifying the “carbon value” of corporations. 

The WEF, along with numerous powerful corporations and advocates of progressive reforms like ESG such as George Soros, BlackRock, Vanguard, JP Morgan Chase, Amazon, General Motors, the Sierra Club, issued comments or engaged in meetings with the SEC in support of the ESG mandate (though many offered suggestions for improvement).

NAU will also offer its GHG program at the graduate level, requiring students to complete a minimum of 12 credit hours. The regular course commences on Jan. 30 and remains open for six months of access.

Corinne Murdock is a reporter for AZ Free News. Follow her latest on Twitter, or email tips to

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