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Scope Emissions

Scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions are three categories of emissions a company or organisation creates. First laid out in 2001 by the Greenhouse Gas Protocol, they are now an important part of how UK businesses are required to report on their GHG emissions and sustainability.

Each category covers emissions that an organisation is responsible for in different ways:

Scope 1 – GHG emissions generated by a company’s own operations

Scope 2 – GHG emissions generated indirectly by the energy consumed a company and its activities

Scope 3 – GHG emissions generated by your organisation’s wider value chain

Generally, Scope 3 emissions will represent the largest proportion of your total scope emissions. However, it also the hardest to measure, as well as the most difficult to address. Scope 1 and 2, in contrast, can generally be calculated accurately and addressed through changes to your operations and an effective sustainability strategy.

For many businesses, Scope 3 emissions account for up to 70% of their total carbon footprint. Even for energy-intensive industries such as manufacturing, the emissions associated with the extraction and processing of raw materials can far exceed those of your own operations.

Addressing Scope 3 emissions is challenging, and requires you to engage with suppliers to work collectively to reduce GHG emissions. In some cases, it may require changes in your supply chain to work with partners that share your sustainability ambitions or requirements.

A commitment to net zero should incorporate you tackling your Scope 3 emissions, although it may more practical to initially aim to address Scope 1 and 2 before pushing on. However, it is important to be as aware as possible of your Scope 3 emissions. Addressing any emissions hotspots such as switching to more sustainable raw materials or to a supplier that has a better sustainability record, when possible, can have one of the biggest impacts on your net emissions.

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