A few ways to understand the definition of “Scope 3” emissions

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– If you’re new to climate reporting, you’re going to need to learn some of the science and the related terminology.
– Scope 1 are your own emissions from company-owned and controlled assets, like your facilities.
– Scope 2 are more indirect and they are upstream activities – the energy you buy to operate.
– Scope 3 are the holy grail of emissions – there are 15 categories involved as part of the indirect upstream and downstream activities that are part of your supply chain and more, things like waste from operations business travel, employees commuting, leased assets, use of sold products.

Here are three resources you can draw upon to help you better understand the difference between Scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions:

1. This web page from “Chapter Zero” provides a bunch of graphics and is good for a “quick and dirty” explanation.

2. This working paper from Gireesh Shrimali provides an overview of frameworks for measuring and managing Scope 3 emissions in an ideal world, where product-level marginal emission factors are known with certainty. It then lays out the issues surrounding the measurement and management of uncertain Scope 3 emissions. It also discusses the progress made so far on these issues and lays out a research agenda for future work.

3. Here’s a note from Mike Barry about this article:

Scope 3 is the most important part of the Net Zero jigsaw puzzle, often dwarfing scope 1 and 2 emissions. Some will say a company’s scope 3 is always someone else’s scope 1/2. Accounting wise yes, but not in terms of action.

Scope 3 actors (from citizens consuming, to SMEs – small- and medium-sized enterprises – and farmers) often lack resources to understand and act on their emissions. Large scope 3 players can galvanise action. Interesting to see Arla Foods providing 8000+ farmers with detailed footprints, benchmarks and tools to act.

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