Understanding the distinctions between scope 1, 2, and 3 corporate emissions is crucial for organisations aiming to reduce their carbon footprint and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. By comprehending the language of climate change, businesses can better navigate sustainability challenges and make a significant impact within their organisations.

The Greenhouse Gas Protocol, launched in 1998, played a pivotal role in establishing standardised GHG accounting and reporting practices. Through an inclusive and transparent international process, the protocol defined three categories of emissions: Scope 1, 2, and 3.

What are Scope 1 emissions?

Scope 1 emissions (direct emissions) are emissions from sources owned or controlled by the company. This includes emissions from fleet vehicles, combustion of fuels in stationary sources like boilers and furnaces, manufacturing processes, fugitive emissions, and electricity production from burning coal.

The extent of scope 1 emissions depends on the specific industry, with some companies solely accounting for fleet vehicle emissions.

What are Scope 2 emissions?

Scope 2 emissions (indirect emissions) result from the use of purchased energy and are released at another facility, such as a power station. Energy consumption often constitutes a significant portion of a company’s emissions, and addressing scope 2 emissions is crucial.

In some countries, for example Australia, businesses account for 70% of electricity consumption, making it a key area for emissions reduction.

What are Scope 3 emissions?

Scope 3 emissions (indirect emissions) encompass all other emissions that occur in the value chain and are beyond the company’s direct control. This category includes employee business travel, employee commuting, extraction and production of purchased materials, transportation of fuels and products, and waste management.

Tracking scope 3 emissions can be challenging due to their distributed nature, but it is essential for a comprehensive climate action strategy.

Essential to keep Scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions in mind

While the GHG Protocol mandates companies to account for and report scope 1 and 2 emissions, addressing scope 3 emissions is also crucial. Calculating these indirect emissions, particularly those occurring in the value chain, can be complex due to the involvement of multiple parties and processes.

Understanding and tracking emissions are important if you want to shift to a more sustainable way of working

To start a sustainability journey and reduce emissions effectively, it is vital to understand your company’s emissions profile across all three scopes.

If you want to dive deeper into scope 1, 2, and 3 emissions, and understand how to measure, reduce, and report your business’s emissions, get in touch with our knowledgeable experts. We can provide guidance, explain the challenges, and offer solutions in easily understandable language, helping you kick-start your sustainability journey.

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