A guide for companies on Greenhouse Gas Emissions Scopes

With the UK’s 2050 Net Zero target fast approaching, there is increased pressure on businesses to eliminate or reduce their greenhouse gas emissions.

One of the main ways companies measure and assess their greenhouse gas emissions is by looking at them within three scopes, in particular scopes one, two and three.

Scopes one, two and three are three types of emissions which are defined in the Greenhouse Gas Protocol Corporate Standard.  These are:

  • Scope one – Emissions are direct emissions which are from owned or controlled sources, such as fuel used in company cars. To reduce this, businesses could switch to electric car alternatives.
  • Scope two – Emissions are indirect emissions from the generation of purchased energy, for example using electricity in buildings. To lower their carbon footprint, businesses could use clean energy sources such as wind, solar or nuclear.
  • Scope three – Emissions are all indirect emissions (not included in scope two) that happen in the value chain of the company, such as staff commuting, production and use of goods. To reduce this, employers could promote schemes such as bike or walk to work.

The National Grid has produced a handy guide on the different emissions scopes, which can be found here.

How do we measure emissions?

It is relatively straightforward to measure scope one and two emissions, as they are in the direct control of the company. To calculate this, a company must measure all the fuel it has burnt onsite (scope one) and the purchased electricity, steam, heating or cooling from an energy utility (scope two).

With scope three not being in the direct control of the company, it can be harder to measure these emissions. However, with scope three emissions generally making up most of a company’s carbon footprint, it’s critical to calculate them to reduce their overall emissions.