What's Next for Scope 3? Summary of the GHG Protocol Standard and Technical Guidance Survey

April 2024

What do the experts think...

The GHG Protocol conducted a survey from November 2022 to March 2023 to gather stakeholder feedback on the Scope 3 Standard and Technical Guidance, aimed at understanding user needs, identifying potential updates, and soliciting recommendations.

Approximately 350 individuals and organisations participated in the survey, providing diverse opinions and suggestions.

Stakeholder feedback on the GHG Protocol's Scope 3 Standard and Technical Guidance indicates a strong need for additional guidance, resources, and clarity to facilitate effective implementation and ensure consistency in greenhouse gas emissions reporting.

The feedback highlights a preference for minor updates over major revisions to the standard. Stakeholders emphasised the need for additional guidance, clarification, and resources to support implementation.

What did the survey find?

Presentation: Enhancing Clarity and Accessibility

Stakeholder feedback underscores the importance of ensuring the GHG Protocol's Scope 3 Standard and Technical Guidance are presented in a clear, accessible manner. Improved presentation is deemed crucial for enhancing understanding and usability, thereby facilitating more effective implementation and consistent reporting practices.

Harmonisation: Streamlining Across Standards

A significant theme emerging from stakeholder feedback is the pressing need for improved harmonisation between the Scope 3 Standard and other relevant frameworks or standards. This emphasis on harmonisation aims to reduce complexity and streamline reporting practices, ensuring greater consistency and comparability of reported emissions data across different reporting entities and frameworks.

Identification and Classification: Ensuring Comprehensive Coverage

Feedback highlights a perceived need for clearer guidance on the identification and classification of Scope 3 emissions sources. Stakeholders advocate for comprehensive coverage and accurate reporting, necessitating clearer guidelines to ensure all relevant emissions sources are identified and classified appropriately.

Boundary Setting: Defining Scope for Consistency

Stakeholders advocate for clearer guidance on boundary setting within the Scope 3 Standard. Clearer boundaries are seen as essential for defining the scope of emissions to be included in reporting, thereby ensuring consistency and comparability across reporting entities and facilitating more accurate assessments of emissions footprints.

Data Collection: Improving Accuracy and Efficiency

Enhancements in data collection methods and tools are strongly requested by stakeholders to improve the accuracy, reliability, and efficiency of capturing Scope 3 emissions data. Improved data collection processes generate higher quality data that can serve as a robust foundation for emissions reporting and decision-making.

Quantification: Standardised Methodologies for Consistency

Stakeholders express a need for standardised methodologies for quantifying Scope 3 emissions. Standardisation is viewed as essential for ensuring consistency and comparability of reported data across different reporting entities, enabling more accurate assessments of emissions footprints and progress towards emission reduction targets.

Allocation: Accurately Distributing Emissions

Clear guidance on allocation methodologies is highlighted as crucial by stakeholders to accurately distribute emissions across relevant categories or activities. Accurate allocation is key to attributing emissions to specific sources or activities, enabling more targeted reduction efforts and informed decision-making.

Targets and Performance Tracking: Driving Meaningful Action

Feedback suggests a need for clearer guidance on setting emissions reduction targets and tracking performance against these targets. Clearer guidance on targets and performance tracking is seen as essential for driving meaningful action and ensuring accountability in emissions reduction efforts.

Assurance: Ensuring Confidence in Reporting

Enhanced assurance mechanisms are recommended by stakeholders to provide confidence in the accuracy and reliability of reported Scope 3 emissions data. Assurance mechanisms are viewed as effective for verifying the integrity of reported data and enhancing trust among stakeholders in emissions reporting processes.

Reporting: Streamlining Requirements and Formats

Clearer guidance on reporting requirements and formats is requested to streamline the reporting process and improve the transparency and comparability of reported data. Streamlined reporting processes were deemed essential for reducing reporting burdens on organisations and improving the accessibility and usability of reported emissions data.

Tools and Support: Facilitating Effective Implementation

Stakeholders call for the development and provision of practical tools and resources to support organisations in implementing the Scope 3 Standard effectively. Enhanced tools and support would aim to overcome implementation challenges and facilitate more robust emissions reporting practices.

Interoperability: Streamlining Data Exchange

Improved interoperability with external frameworks and systems is advocated by stakeholders to facilitate data exchange and streamline reporting processes for organisations engaging with multiple standards. Improved interoperability would reduce reporting burdens on organisations and enhance the efficiency and accuracy of emissions reporting processes.

Market-based Accounting Approaches: Incentivising Emissions Reductions

There is interest among stakeholders in exploring market-based accounting approaches within the Scope 3 Standard. Market-based approaches are seen as potentially valuable tools for incentivising emissions reductions and supporting market-driven solutions to climate change challenges, thereby complementing regulatory and voluntary emission reduction efforts.

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What’s Next for the Standards Update Process?

The Summary Report and Proposal Summary for Scope 3 Survey are integral components facilitating the formulation of tailored work plans and fostering discussions on crucial amendments to the Scope 3 Standard and associated GHG Protocol standards. In November 2023, the Greenhouse Gas Protocol unveiled a governance framework, featuring a Steering Committee, an Independent Standards Board, and multiple Technical Working Groups. 

Currently, the GHG Protocol is assessing the applications, with plans to convene Technical Working Groups by mid-2024, subsequent to the public announcement of members for the Steering Committee and Independent Standards Board. This rigorous review process ensures a diverse array of perspectives is incorporated into the standard-setting process, promoting inclusivity and comprehensiveness.

In our collective pursuit of sustainable practices, the GHG Protocol serves as a beacon of transparency and collaboration, driving meaningful progress through robust standards and inclusive participation. Together, we forge a path towards a more resilient and sustainable future for generations to come.

How does Trace deal with Scope 3?

Trace’s carbon accounting methodology is aligned with the GHG Protocol guidelines. To recap, Scope 3 emissions are all indirect emissions (not included in scope 2) that occur in the value chain of the reporting company, including both upstream and downstream emissions. The most common activities which result in scope 3 emissions are: business travel, employee commute, working from home, waste, purchased goods and services, capital goods, and upstream/downstream transport and distribution, which can all be recorded in our platform. 

With Scope 3 emissions contributing to around 70% a businesses emissions, it is extremely important that businesses strive for good coverage and accuracy when it comes to their value chain. 

To learn more about how Trace can help you keep track of your Scope 3 emissions, talk to a member of our team today.

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