Greenhouse Gas Protocol releases technical guide for calculating scope 3 emissions

Submitted by: Margaret McKenzie, Friday, May 10, 2013

The Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Protocol has released technical guidelines for calculating Scope Three emissions. The guidelines are a supplement to the GHG Protocol’s Corporate Value Chain (Scope Three) Accounting & Reporting Standard.

Scope Three GHG emissions are the indirect emissions of an entity and are the most difficult emissions to measure.  The Corporate Value Chain (Scope Three) Accounting and Reporting Standard that was released in 2011 by the GHG Protocol helped to simplify the process of measuring carbon emissions by identifying fifteen distinct categories of Scope Three emissions.  The standard also provided guidance on selecting categories to include in a Green House Gas Inventory.

The new technical guidelines help to make GHG reporting even easier by providing methods for calculating GHG emissions for each of the 15 categories identified in the Scope Three Reporting Standard and examples to demonstrate the application of each calculation method.  Various methods of calculation are presented for the different categories to assist in cases where there is limited information available to assist in the calculation process.

The methods have been ranked in order of specificity.  Explaining specificity the guidelines indicate “if a calculation method is specific to a company’s activity, the calculation is based on data relating directly to the particular activity in question, such as data collected from a transport provider relating to journeys carried out. In contrast, less specific methods use data that does not directly relate to the activity, such as industry average emission factors.”

More specific methods of calculation will result in better quality Scope Three emissions information. However, it is not always possible to secure specific information for some of Scope Three categories and the less specific calculation methods need to be used in these cases.

The technical guidelines are available for download on the GHG Protocol Website.  The fifteen categories of Scope Three emissions are presented in the table below.

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Margaret McKenzie