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

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. While scope 1 and 2 cover direct emissions sources (e.g., fuel used in company vehicles and purchased electricity), scope 3 emissions cover all indirect emissions due to the activities of an organization.  These include emissions from both suppliers and consumers, as shown in the table below:

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)

Investments

Leased assets and franchises

What is a value chain footprint?


A value chain carbon footprint measures both direct  and indirect  greenhouse gas emissions of an organisation. This diagram shows how emissions are categorised across an organisation's value chain, including upstream and downstream activities.

Overview of Greenhouse Gas Protocol scopes and emissions across the value chain

Overview of Greenhouse Gas Protocol scope and emissions across the value chain. Source:  GHG Protocol

 

You can read an introduction to carbon footprinting and carbon emissions reporting for your business in our guide to carbon footprinting

 

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 supply chain emissions:

 

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.

 

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