Scope 1, 2, 3 Emissions Made Simple: A Guide

As businesses around the world increasingly commit to reducing their environmental impact, understanding and managing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions has become a crucial aspect of sustainability. One of the foundational concepts in GHG accounting is the classification of emissions into three categories: Scope 1, Scope 2, and Scope 3. This guide will help you understand these scopes and their significance in your sustainability journey.

Scope 1: Direct Emissions

Scope 1 emissions are direct GHG emissions that occur from sources that are owned or controlled by the company. This includes emissions from:

  • Stationary combustion sources: such as boilers, furnaces, and generators.
  • Mobile combustion sources: like company-owned vehicles and machinery.
  • Process emissions: from chemical production processes.
  • Fugitive emissions: leaks from equipment or refrigerant systems.

Example: If your company operates a fleet of delivery trucks, the emissions from the fuel combusted by these trucks fall under Scope 1.

Addressing Scope 1 emissions is often the first step in any comprehensive GHG reduction strategy, because it's direct emissions from your company's operations. So they should be quite easy to calculate, right? At least that's what most articles say.

But is it really that simple? Not really. Because to be able to calculate scope 1 emissions, you need data. Lots of it. And if you haven't collected it before, it's going to be more challenging than it seems.

So if you haven't started yet, you know what they say - the best time to start was 20 years ago, and the second best time is now. But don't worry, the good news is, that managing Scope 1 emissions thoroughly can significantly contribute to your organization's overall sustainability goals.

Scope 2: Indirect Energy Emissions

Scope 2 emissions are indirect GHG emissions associated with the purchase of electricity, steam, heat, or cooling. Although these emissions occur at the facilities where the energy is generated, they are accounted for in your company’s GHG inventory because they are a result of your energy consumption.

Example: The emissions produced by a power plant that generates the electricity your office consumes are considered Scope 2 for your company.

Understanding Scope 2 emissions enables you to grasp the broader impact of your energy consumption patterns, which can be substantial depending on the energy mix of the external providers.

For example, its really different, if your energy comes from coal-fired power station, nuclear power plants or from your own photovoltaic or wind power plants.

Tracking Scope 2 emissions is a pivotal practice in comprehensive GHG accounting. By focusing on energy efficiency and sourcing renewable energy, you can make significant strides towards reducing your Scope 2 emissions and overall carbon footprint.

Scope 3: Comprehensive Indirect Emissions

Scope 3 emissions represent all indirect emissions that occur in a company’s value chain. These can be the most challenging to quantify and manage, but they often represent the largest portion of a company’s total greenhouse gas emissions. For many companies, Scope 3 emissions represent over 70% of their total carbon footprint.

Scope 3 emissions include:

  • Upstream activities: such as purchased goods and services, business travel, employee commuting, and waste generated in operations.
  • Downstream activities: including the use of sold products, end-of-life treatment of sold products, and investments.

Example: If you manufacture electronics, the emissions from the mining of raw materials, the production of components by suppliers, and the disposal of your products by consumers are all part of Scope 3.

Addressing Scope 3 emissions requires collaboration across the value chain to drive significant sustainability improvements.

If your organization hasn't started with Scope 3 carbon emissions, try to start as soon as possible. It's really challenging to get those data from your suppliers, customers and other business partners.

Benefits of Emission Classification

Classifying emissions into scopes provides a structured framework for understanding a company's carbon footprint. By categorizing emissions, your organization can identify and differentiate sources, facilitating targeted reduction strategies.

It also allows for more accurate greenhouse gas (GHG) accounting, aligning with international standards and regulatory requirements, thus ensuring better transparency and comparability.

By creating “scope-specific” goals, your organization can focus on the 'big picture' of sustainability. For example if you set a goal to reduce your CO2 emissions by 20 % within 2 years, it's crucial for you to have an overview of which areas produce the highest emissions and then focus on them.

The way to the net-zero emissions may seem bumpy, but step-by-step you can achieve really good results and contribute to the climate change and reduce global warming. Just start with effective data-collection. Let's see the easiest way to get those.

What's the Easiest Way to Get Scope Emissions Data?

Understanding your Scope 1, 2, and 3 emissions is crucial for regulatory compliance and accurate sustainability reporting. Many jurisdictions have established rigorous frameworks for GHG emissions disclosure, necessitating comprehensive and precise data. But what's the easiest way to get them? The answer is Sustainability management system.

Sustainability management system (SMS) is designed to streamline your compliance efforts by offering comprehensive monitoring, analytics, and reporting capabilities. Whether you need detailed reports for regulatory submissions or robust data for internal assessments, SMS ensures you meet all requirements efficiently and accurately.

But be careful, when your choosing one, because not every Sustainability management system uses the right reporting methodology.

For example in Sustainability management Enmon, carbon footprint is processed on the grounds of the rules of the GHG Protocol and its standards "A Corporate Accounting and Reporting Standard" (Scope 1+2) and "Corporate Value Chain (Scope 3) Accounting and Reporting Standard".

And because it's an internationally recognized standard, you don't need to do anything else with your data. With just a few clicks, you can generate a report or pull data from the system and use it straight away. So your report can look like this:

Enmon enables you to track emission trends, set reduction targets, and generate compliance-ready reports. By leveraging our tools, your business can stay "audit-ready" and demonstrate genuine commitment to sustainability.

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