When we talk about reducing greenhouse gas emissions, it's not just about what's generated directly from our own operations or activities (Scope 1) or the energy we purchase (Scope 2). There's a third, less visible category known as Scope 3 emissions, which encompasses indirect emissions along the entire value chain of an organisation. In this article, we'll explore what Scope 3 emissions are and look at some strategies to reduce them.
What Are Scope 3 Emissions?
Scope 3 emissions, as defined by the Greenhouse Gas Protocol, are indirect emissions associated with a company's activities, but occur from sources not owned or controlled by that company. Scope 3 emissions are often the largest and most challenging emissions category to address but also offer significant opportunities for reduction.
Common examples of Scope 3 Emissions:
- Business Travel: encompasses the greenhouse gas emissions generated as employees travel for work-related purposes (excluding commuting which is a separate category of scope 3 emissions). This category includes emissions from air travel, ground transportation, and even hotel stays.
- Purchased Goods and Services: represent a substantial source of Scope 3 emissions for many organisations. These emissions originate from the entire supply chain of products and services procured by the company, encompassing activities such as raw material extraction, manufacturing, transportation, and energy consumption by service providers.
- Upstream Transportation and Distribution: refers to the greenhouse gas emissions produced during the transportation of raw materials, components, and finished products within the supply chain of an organisation. These emissions occur before the goods or materials reach the organisation's direct control.
Refer to the Greenhouse Gas Protocol (linked above) for more details on the 15 categories of scope 3 emissions.