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What are Scope 3 emissions?

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. 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

  • Fuel combustion

  • Company vehicles

  • Fugitive emissions


Scope 2

  • Purchased electricity, heat and steam


Scope 3

  • 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


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.


Original source: Carbon Trust

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