Learn: Carbon accounting

It's as easy as (scopes) 1, 2 and 3!

What are emissions scopes?

Emissions scopes are a way to organise emissions into categories and help identify the level of direct control an organisation has over their emissions. 

These ‘scopes’ help us:

  • drive targeted reduction initiatives, 
  • make target setting, tracking and reporting on emissions reductions activities transparent and consistent, and 
  • clearly define the ‘emissions boundary’ (more on this later) of a carbon assessment which defines which  activities have been included in the assessment, and which have not

The Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Protocol Standard, the most widely accepted GHG accounting and reporting standard, organises emission categories into three primary ‘scopes’:

  • Scope 1: direct emissions from owned or controlled sources (i.e. fuel used by facilities and company vehicles)
  • Scope 2: indirect emissions from purchased electricity, steam, heating and cooling consumed by the company (i.e. purchased electricity, heating and cooling at operating locations)
  • Scope 3: all other indirect emissions in a company’s supply chain (i.e. goods and services, business travel and employee commuting)

What are emissions boundaries? 

To accurately report on GHG emissions an organisation must first define its emissions boundary. This boundary relates to the composition of the organisation and the areas of the business a company has direct control over. An emissions boundary transparently discloses where the line has been drawn for the activities that fall within an organisation’s control and those that do not. 

Example emissions boundary: 

Example emissions boundary for a Financial Services Organisation - inclusions across scopes 1, 2 and 3

You’ve made it this far – starting is easy

Join our community of climate-conscious business leaders and take responsibility for your carbon footprint with trace today.

What scopes and what emissions boundary is used in the Trace methodology?

The emissions boundary for a carbon assessment with Trace must include all emissions under the direct control or ownership of an organisation, as well as emissions they can strongly influence, including key suppliers. 

We make it easy for our clients by defining their emissions boundary based on the type of business they are and the level of control they generally have on emissions. In simple terms, we’ve used recognised methodologies and benchmarks from our client base to determine what is and isn’t included. If you don’t have data for an item we require a short explanatory statement as to why it has been excluded (e.g. “no flights taken during measurement period”), or apply an assumption that includes an uplift*. 

*An uplift factor is an upwards adjustment to the total carbon inventory to account for relevant emissions, which can’t be reasonably calculated or estimated.

We also ensure that you have all the information you need to talk about your annual emissions.  A big piece of this conversation is understanding your emissions boundary and what part of your carbon footprint falls into scope 1, 2 and 3. We aim to be as comprehensive as possible in measuring emissions deemed relevant to delivering the products and services of our customers.

Our carbon assessment covers:

Scope 1: direct emissions 

  • We look at any fuel consumed by the facilities in which you operate or vehicles your organisation owns (many of our service-based customers have no scope 1 emissions)

Scope 2: indirect emissions 

  • Electricity usage at operating locations (energy bills or our benchmark based on m2 of occupied space)

Scope 3: supply chain emissions 

  • Electricity usage from employees working-from-home
  • Travel - includes employee commuting and all business related travel (air, public transport, taxi/rideshare, accommodation)
  • Supplier spend on purchased goods and services 
  • Waste from operations
  • Freight, Customer Deliveries, Materials & Manufacturing + Packaging (applicable only to product companies)

The Trace emissions engine leverages best practice carbon accounting methodologies, including from the UK Government, Australian Government’s Climate Active programme, NABERS and the global GHG Protocol. Emissions factors and benchmark data come from auditable sources. 

If you’d like to learn more about your organisation’s scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions, reach out to our team today!

Read more about companies on the journey to Net Zero

Lab 17

Lab 17 is carbon neutral

Learn more

Talaria Capital

Talaria Capital is carbon neutral

Learn more

Radish Events

Radish Events is carbon neutral

Learn more

Actions for individuals