What is scope 3 (and 1 and 2)?

The Greenhouse Gas Protocol distinguishes between scope 1, 2 and 3. Getting the data for scope 1 and 2 is usually no problem But scope 3 is a whole other story. This scope often raises questions like: what does scope 3 actually mean? Why is this so important? Or: what do I do with this? In this article we will explain all of this to you.

What is scope 3 according to the GHG-P

Let’s start at the basis and look at the Greenhouse Gas Protocol (GHG-P). This protocol is the standard method to measure and report greenhouse gas emissions, like CO2. It is like a compass. The GHG-P clearly separates scope 1 as ‘direct emissions’ and scope 2 and 3 as ‘indirect emissions’. Scope 2 emissions are indirectly connected to your production, but come from your own company.  An example of these emissions is how much electricity you use or the amount of energy you use to heat your buildings.

Scope 3: upstream and downstream emissions

Let’s dive deeper into scope 3. In short: scope 3 emissions are all emissions that are produced before or after the core activities of your company. Now, imagine a company that makes pencils. Before they can make these pencils, they need to have materials like graphite and wood and ship them to the factory. These are the ‘upstream’ scope 3 emissions. These also include other purchases the company makes that are essential for making the pencils, like: capital goods, air travel and waste processing.

After making the pencils, they aren’t done. They also need to transport the pencils to their clients. Who are going to use them and dispose of them at some point. These are called the ‘downstream’ scope 3 emissions. So, scope 3 is the sum of these upstream and downstream emissions.

Why are the scopes so important?

All three scopes are important for making your CO2-footprint and to see where you can work on lowering your emissions. And so: where you can make a difference. It is the most common method in norms and legislation that focus on the emission of greenhouse gases, like in the CSRD and CO2-Performance Ladder.

SmartTrackers makes reporting on CO2 easy

The  CO2-gauges in SmartTrackers’ software are specifically designed to work with scopes like the ones we discussed above. We also facilitate the collaboration with chain partners for trustworthy scope 3 information and collaborative improvement. We bring the GHG-P back to its essence.

Of course now you’re wondering: how will you do that? We can tell you all about it, but we can also show it to you. Do you want to know more about how we contribute to sustainably reducing your emissions? Request a free demo.

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