Selecting scope three emissions for a carbon footprint report

Submitted by: Amanda Botes, Monday, April 16, 2012

<p>Overview of GHG Protocol scopes and emissions across the value chain (Source: GHG Protocol)</p>

Overview of GHG Protocol scopes and emissions across the value chain (Source: GHG Protocol)

Many organisations find reporting Scope Three emissions difficult and confusing. This article provides guidance on how to select Scope Three emissions for a carbon footprint report and is based on the corporate standard and the scope three supplement of the Green House Gas Protocol.

Minimum carbon footprint reporting requires Scope One and Scope Two emissions to be reported (A   guide to minimum reporting can be found here). Reporting Scope Three emissions is not compulsory under the GHG Protocol but it is recommended that Scope Three emissions that are significant or relevant to a company’s operations are included in the report.

Scope Three Categories

Scope Three emissions are all other indirect emissions not included in Scope Two.  Most organisations find it difficult to report on Scope Three emissions as information is often required from third parties and is difficult to track. To help with this, the GHG Protocol has developed additional guidelines which categorises a number of generic Scope Three emissions. These are listed in the table below.

The diagram below provides an overview of GHG Protocol scopes and emissions  including Scope 3 upstream and downstream emissions.

Overview of GHG Protocol scopes Diagram
Overview of GHG Protocol scopes and emissions across the value chain (Source: GHG Protocol)

Which Scope Three categories should you report?

It is not required to report on all Scope Three categories listed in the table above.   However, the company should list the categories that will not be reported and provide reasons as to why these have not been reported on.  The three main reasons for not reporting a category are:

  1. The category is not applicable (for instance use of sold products would not be applicable to a company that does not produce products)
  2. The category is not significant (for instance business travel would not be tracked by a  company that has very limited business travel)
  3. Data is not available for the category (for instance purchased goods and services would not be tracked if the company’s suppliers cannot provide emissions data)

The tables below illustrate how a fictitious office-based company, Dream Company, selected Scope Three categories to track.

From the above exercise, Dream Company was able to select Business Travel and Employee Commuting as the Scope Three categories that it will report on.

Amanda Botes