Understanding Scope 1, 2 and 3 Emissions

An introduction to GHG emissions reporting

scope emissions chart

Scope Emissions Explained

At the heart of the decarbonisation effort to combat climate change is the need to efficiently measure and track greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. As companies, public bodies, and consumers continue to align with the global sustainable development agenda, it has become essential to ensure that carbon and GHG reduction strategies are in place, which first requires an understanding of those emissions.

For many organisations, gaining an understanding of their GHG footprint is a precursor to being able to design and deliver effective climate solutions. Without this vital piece of information, planning and executing strategies to effectively reduce carbon emissions are likely to be wrought with problems. To combat this and further formulate a standardised approach to GHG reporting, emissions can be classified into three distinct ‘scopes’, as defined by the GHG Protocol Corporate Standard, which covers both direct and indirect emissions related to a given organisation.

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Emissions Examples

Scope 1 emissions

  • Building onsite energy use (e.g., space heating)
  • Building refrigerants
  • Company Vehicles Fuel consumed by owned and leased vehicles

Scope 2 emissions

  • Purchased electricity, steam, heating & cooling for own use

Scope 3 emissions

  • Purchased Goods and Services
  • Capital goods
  • Upstream and Downstream Transportation & Distribution
  • Business Travel (incl. Remote Working)
  • Employee Commuting
  • Leased Assets
  • Waste Generated in Operations
  • Investments

What are Scopes 1, 2 and 3?

The GHG Protocol have defined three scopes of emissions. The scopes correlate to who ‘owns’ those emissions and the level of control applicable to changing those emission levels at each stage.

Scope 1 and 2 emissions are a mandatory part of reporting for many organisations across the world and relate to systems that are within reasonable control of an entity, such as onsite and purchased energy.

Scope 3 emissions are centered on sources of emissions that are more external to a specific organisation, such as those across the supply chain. Scope 3 emissions remain mostly voluntary to report, however, in most cases the reduction of Scope 3 has the potential to have the largest impact. Find out more about Scope 3 emissions here.

Scope   Emission Type   Definition  
Scope 1 Direct Emissions GHG emissions directly from operations that are owned or controlled by the reporting company
Scope 2 Indirect Emissions Indirect GHG emissions from the generation of purchased or acquired electricity, steam, heating, or cooling consumed by the reporting company
Scope 3 All indirect emissions (not included in scope 2) that occur in the value chain of the reporting company, including both upstream and downstream emissions

Find out more about emissions reporting and science based target setting

scope 1 2 and 3 diagram

Why measure your emissions?

2020 saw many organisations ramp up their efforts to report on their carbon and energy emissions. However, 2021 will continue to see an increase in the requirements associated with managing and auditing emissions through schemes such as TCFD and SECR. Reporting on Scope 1 and 2 is mandatory for many, whilst reporting emissions across the whole value chain will increasingly become harder to avoid.

Organisational power to change

The control an organisation has over its emissions should not start and stop at its front door. Utilising the power to influence behaviours throughout the value chain will be instrumental in reporting and minimising emissions related to a product or service. Understanding and reporting on emissions now will empower your business and provide a proactive approach to aligning with increasingly mandatory climate regulations.

Benefits of Scope Reporting

Organisations that engage with Scope 1, 2 and 3 reporting can see a myriad of benefits, including:

  • Improved transparency, customer trust, brand and reputational enhancement
  • Identification of the climate-maturity of key value chain players and the ability to identify value chain hotspots and weaknesses
  • Better understanding of exposure to resource, energy and climate-related risks
  • Lower energy and resource costs
  • Positive engagement with employees and consumers.

How We Can Help

Anthesis provides holistic, global solutions for the measuring and reporting of all scope emissions. We support clients to help identify carbon and greenhouse gas emissions across the value chain and strategically plan for a low carbon future. This support includes providing expert guidance and consultative services for legislative compliance, carbon management and assisting routes to carbon neutrality and sustainable energy management.

To find out how our compliance and carbon consulting services can work for you, get in touch

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