With the familiar categories (scopes) 1, 2 and 3 from the Greenhouse Gas Protocol, the greenhouse gas emissions in a company can be assigned to different areas: While scope 1 emissions refer to those caused directly by the company, such as self-operated facilities or the vehicle fleet, scope 2 emissions are assigned to purchased energy. Corresponding indirect emissions are caused by electricity, heat or steam.
Scope 3 emissions, on the other hand, include all indirect emissions that occur both upstream and downstream in the supply chain. These include emissions from purchased components, products and services, as well as transport, business travel, further processing of products and their use and treatment at the end of their life-cycle. Given the variety of considerations to be taken into account for the calculation of scope 3 emissions, it becomes clear that aggregating meaningful data is a major challenge for companies. Not only is intensive communication required within the value chain, but also the verification of responses, filling in data gaps with the most accurate, commonly available values possible and calculating the resulting emissions is another laborious undertaking.
That’s mainly the reason why many companies that deal with their carbon footprint focus on scope 1 and 2. However, the full impact of operational activities can only be determined by including all three scopes. It is often the case that scope 3 emissions are those that account for the largest share of total emissions.
On the way to climate-friendly business practices, every small change could have a positive effect, such as switching to electric power supply from renewable sources. Companies that already calculate their greenhouse gas emissions today and include scope 1, 2 and 3 for this purpose are also preparing themselves for future challenges. In addition to expected legal requirements, such as the calculation of CO2-emissions from batteries, emission-calculations are also becoming an increasingly required criterion in public tenders. Last but not least, sustainability aspects such as the carbon footprint are affecting the purchasing decisions of end consumers more and more.
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