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GHG Emissions - Why does your company need to check all scopes ?

Margaux Seiller
Greenhouse gase (GHG) emissions are divided into three ‘scopes’. This follows the  GHG Protocol Corporate Standard that helps classify companys’ emissions. All these emissions occur in the value chain of the reporting companies, which include both upstream and downstream activities.

What are the Greenhouse Gas (GHG) scopes?

Scope 1: Direct GHG Emissions
The first scope, generally called Scope 1, refers to direct GHG emissions. These emissions come from sources that are owned or controlled by the company. 
For example, these emissions can occur from combustion in owned or controlled boilers, furnaces, vehicles or from chemical production in owned or controlled process equipment. 
However direct CO2 emissions from the combustion of biomass and GHG emissions that are not covered by the Kyoto Protocol (for example CFCs, NOx, etc.) are not included under scope 1 and are reported separately.  

Scope 2: Electricity Indirect GHG Emissions
Scope 2 takes into acount  GHG emissions from the generation of purchased electricity consumed by a company. Purchased electricity is defined as electricity that is purchased or otherwise brought into the organizational boundary of the company. Scope 2 emissions physically occur at the facility where electricity is generated. Scope 2 can be linked to indirect CO2 emissions produced by a company’s suppliers in generating energy that is then purchase for their  production.

Scope 3: Indirect GHG Emissions
Scope 3 is an optional reporting category that concerns the treatment of all other indirect emissions, not included in scope 2. Scope 3 emissions are a consequence of company activities , but occur from sources not owned or controlled by the company. Some examples of scope 3 activities are extraction and production of purchased materials, transportation of purchased fuels, and use of products and services. Scope 3 gathers all other CO2 emissions produced along the value chain (e.g. with suppliers, during the usage phase of the products, during disposal and during transportation). These emissions are recorded under 15 different categories which include  Business Travel (Category 6), Employee Commuting (Category 7), and Upstream Transportation and Distribution (Category 4).

Why should your company consider all 3 scopes?

To get a more complete insight of your company’s carbon footprint and impact
More and more businesses want to have a meaningful sustainable strategy. However, they can’t manage what they can’t measure. Because climate change is a complex and global problem, decisions about how to reduce emissions need to be based on quantifiable facts rather than assumptions. 
GHG scopes provide an essential foundation for strategic thinking about reducing emissions. Indeed, they allow businesses to identify the biggest “hot spots” in their value chains – the activities that generate the most emissions. 
This information allows companies to know where they should focus their efforts to reduce CO2 emissions. They can measure it in their operations, but also across global value chains. If the measures are successful, product and value chain,  GHG measurement will become standard business practice. 

Improve your carbon balancing policy
Taking into account all three scopes protocol can help you get a complete insight of your carbon emissions. Thanks to this, companies can implement a more precise and reliable carbon offsetting policy in parallel to their reduction strategies. With this tool, they evaluate where they can reduce emissions to the maximum, and where they can offset the residual emissions in order to accelerate their sustainable impact.

Let’s sum up.
Remember to measure all three scopes of  your GHG emissions and both reduce them and offset your residual ones. 
Article written by Margaux Seiller