Briefing: What are Scope 3 emissions?

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?

Greenhouse gas emissions are categorised into three groups or 'Scopes' by the most widely-used international accounting tool, the Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Protocol. Scope 1 covers direct emissions from owned or controlled sources. Scope 2 covers indirect emissions from the generation of purchased electricity, steam, heating and cooling consumed by the reporting company. Scope 3 includes all other indirect emissions that occur in a company’s value chain.

Scope 1 Scope 2 Scope 3
Fuel combustion
Company vehicles
Fugitive emissions
Purchased electricity, heat and steam

Purchased goods and services

Business travel

Employee commuting
Waste disposal
Use of sold products

Transportation and distribution (up- and downstream)


Leased assets and franchises

Why should an organisation measure its Scope 3 emissions?

There are a number of benefits associated with measuring Scope 3 emissions.  For many companies, the majority of their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and cost reduction opportunities lie outside their own operations.  By measuring Scope 3 emissions, organisations can:

  • Assess where the emission hotspots are in their supply chain;
  • Identify resource and energy risks in their supply chain;
  • Identify which suppliers are leaders and which are laggards in terms of their sustainability performance;
  • Identify energy efficiency and cost reduction opportunities in their supply chain;
  • Engage suppliers and assist them to implement sustainability initiatives
  • Improve the energy efficiency of their products
  • Positively engage with employees to reduce emissions from business travel and employee commuting.

How can my organisation measure its Scope 3 carbon emissions and value chain carbon footprint?

We offer a range of services to help you measure and manage your value and supply chain emissions:

Value and supply chain sustainability

Includes building a low carbon strategy and supplier engagement.

Footprint measurement and analysis

Includes calculation of your organisation or product carbon footprint.  

Carbon Trust Standard

Certification for organisations that are reducing greenhouse gas (CO2e) emissions in their supply chains.

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

Read more about the Corporate Value Chain (Scope 3) Accounting and Reporting Standard at the GHG Protocol website.


Download your copy

Complete the form below to access this resource (the download will appear at the bottom of this page).