What are Scope 3 emissions and why do they matter?

What are Scope 3 emissions, how can they be measured and what benefit is there to organisations measuring them?

Truck on the motorway

What are Scope 3 emissions?

The Greenhouse Gas Protocol – which provides the most widely recognised accounting standards for greenhouse gas emissions – categorises GHG emissions into three ‘scopes’.  

Scope 1 covers direct emissions from owned or controlled sources. Scope 2 covers indirect emissions from the purchase and use of electricity, steam, heating and cooling. By using the energy, an organisation is indirectly responsible for the release of these GHG emissions. Scope 3 includes all other indirect emissions that occur in the upstream and downstream activities of an organisation. 


The GHG Protocol’s Corporate Value Chain (Scope 3) Standard identifies 15 categories

Why should an organisation measure its Scope 3 emissions?

Measuring Scope 3 emissions has several benefits. For most businesses and public bodies, the majority of their GHG emissions and cost reduction opportunities are outside their own operations. Addressing Scope 3 emissions can help advance an organisation’s decarbonisation and sustainability journey. 

The benefits to businesses

Next to meeting changing regulatory requirements, measuring Scope 3 emissions allows businesses to: 

  • Assess where the emission hotspots are across their value chain to prioritise reduction strategies. 
  • Identify which suppliers are leaders and which are laggards in terms of their sustainability performance. 
  • Inform decision making across procurement, product development and logistics teams regarding which interventions can deliver the most significant emission reductions. 
  • Encourage product innovation to create more sustainable and energy-efficient products. 
  • Advance their climate strategy to create genuine, quantifiable, and visible change. 
  • Positively engage with employees to reduce emissions from business travel and employee commuting. 

The benefits to public sector organisations

By measuring Scope 3 emissions, in particular those across the supply chain, public sector bodies can: 

  • Prioritise decarbonisation efforts where they can make the biggest difference. 
  • Collaborate with suppliers to reduce emissions and demonstrate community level benefits of supply chain decarbonisation. 
  • Leverage significant buying power to act as a catalyst and drive change    
  • Encourage employees to reduce emissions from business travel, commuting, waste, and water. 
  • Communicate a comprehensive footprint and progress with stakeholders, such as constituents and communities 
  • Contribute to national efforts towards achieving Net Zero. 

How can my organisation measure its Scope 3 emissions?

We help you measure and manage your value and supply chain emissions.  

Footprint measurement and reporting

We help organisations to calculate their footprint, including their value chain/Scope 3 footprint. As part of this, our experts help you take pragmatic steps to measure your footprint, spending effort on the most material categories of emissions. Our analysis helps lay the foundation for your climate change strategy using insightful data to engage other value chain partners involved in your carbon reduction efforts. 

An introductory guide to Scope 3 emissions

Includes the key considerations businesses and public bodies must bear in mind when measuring and reporting Scope 3 emissions. 

To find out more about any of the above, please contact us.



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