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Carbon Footprint Measurements

Carbon Footprint Measurements

A carbon footprint (CF) is defined as the total greenhouse gases (GHG) emitted by an entity and is expressed in carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2-eq). An entity can refer to any source, such as an individual, organisation, locality, product, or project. Emissions are generated from a of variety activities, for example, energy use, land use, waste management, production of goods, and services purchased. GHG emissions are usually divided into three categories:

  • Scope 1 – Direct emissions: come directly from an activity or action such as burning fuels in a car, boiler, or stove.
  • Scope 2 – Indirect fuel emissions: are emitted in the processes performed by energy suppliers to produce the energy that we consume. An example of this is the burning of coal or gas to generate electricity.
  • Scope 3 – Other indirect emissions: are emissions that occur in the up or downstream processes of a supply chain. This could be the extraction of raw materials, production of food, transport unrelated to the direct emitter, or waste treatment.

The division between the emissions categories is a result of the source of the emission generation and how much power one has over these emissions and their reduction. For example, a paperclip factory does not have that much control over how the electricity it uses is produced (Scope 2 emissions), and even less influence on how the steel is extracted and made (Scope 3). However, it can invest in increasing efficiency of the machinery it uses and can implement energy-efficient operational procedures for operations occurring at the factory (Scope 1).

The difference between these various integrated activities, which in this case come together to make a paperclip, is sometimes unclear. Therefore, it is important to have explicit categories and be clear on what to include in them. This is why standards have been developed to help companies, authorities and even individuals navigate through accurate GHG accounting and report on Scope 1,2 and 3 emissions.

Greenhouse Gas Protocol is a globally recognised organisation that is developing frameworks for the measurement and management of GHG in the public and private sectors. Standards developed by the Greenhouse Gas Protocol serve as a common ground for many reporting systems and certification programs.

They define the main concepts connected with a carbon footprint, divide the emission into Scope 1, Scope 2, and Scope 3, and help the user navigate through the GHG inventory process. This protocol also provides support in setting carbon reduction targets, managing emissions, and reporting the resulting carbon footprint.

Why Carbon Footprint is Important

A carbon footprint calculation is the first step to developing more energy-efficient business operations or identifying sustainability targets. By measuring the current types and sources of emissions, and mapping them out in a carbon footprint, it is easy for a company to identify emission “hot spots” and compare themselves with existing industry standards or benchmark against national targets. Additionally, it is necessary for developing emission reduction targets.

It is important to begin by measuring a carbon footprint before investing in efficiency or sustainability improvements, and Ecomatters is here to help. We have been quantifying environmental impacts for over a decade and have extensive experience with carbon footprint calculations. We are also up to date on different standards including the Carbon Disclosure Project and the Greenhouse Gas Protocol. In addition, we can help you develop customised carbon footprint calculation tools for your business or organisation.

We are committed to making quantified results more than just numbers. We help our clients turn basic carbon measurements into action in order to achieve effective results and communication. Some examples can be found on our case studies page.

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