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Scope 3: how to manage double accounting?


Managing double accounting within Scope 3 emissions is crucial for accurately assessing a company's carbon footprint.
This article delves into the complexities surrounding Scope 3 emissions, emphasizing the risks of double counting and its potential consequences. Challenges include increased complexity, coordination issues among organizations, risk of overvaluation of emissions, and communication problems. The article explores methods and tools for managing double entry, such as specific software like D-Carbonize, attribution techniques, and inter-company collaboration. Proper management is essential for transparent and effective reduction of a company's impact on the climate.
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Scope 3, encompassing indirect emissions related to all of a company's activities, is essential for assessing its carbon footprint. However, the complexity of Scope 3 can lead to double counting of some emissions.
Find out in this article how to manage and avoid double entry in the context of Scope 3.

This image shows that the same greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions are accounted for upstream and downstream by different companies in the carbon footprint.

What is double accounting in Scope 3?

Double entry, in the context of Scope 3, refers to the possibility that the same greenhouse gas (GHG) emission is accounted for both upstream and downstream by different organizations. It is a phenomenon that can be confusing and lead to errors in the accurate assessment of GHG emissions for a company or industry.

The main concern with this double entry is that it leads to an overestimation of the total GHG emissions associated with a value chain, which can distort the analysis and reporting of a sector's or region's carbon emissions. Moreover, it can also be misleading for companies looking to reduce their carbon footprint. If they base their reduction strategies on flawed data, they may misallocate their resources or set irrelevant goals.

"Navigating Scope 3's double accounting maze demands precision and collaboration"

A labyrinth that reflects the difficulty of managing the double accounting of scope 3 emissions

Scope 3: what are the challenges of double accounting?

Double entry within Scope 3 has many consequences and challenges:

  • Increased complexity: double entry makes the task of tracking GHG emissions more complex, as it requires extensive analysis to ensure that emissions are not counted multiple times and that reporting is accurate.
  • Inter-company coordination: since multiple organizations along a value chain can account for the same emissions, coordination and good communication between them is required.
  • Risk of overvaluation of total emissions at sectoral or regional level: double counting can lead to a distorted perception of the true impact of a sector or region on the climate.
  • Communication problems: double entry can cause misunderstandings among investors, regulators and the public who, without clear explanations from a company about its actions against global warming, may doubt its sincerity and perceive it as "greenwashing".

Scope 3: methods and tools for managing double accounting

Managing double entry in Scope 3 requires rigorous methods and appropriate tools to ensure the accuracy and transparency of emissions accounting.

Use of specific software and tools

Today, there is a lot of software dedicated to managing and accounting for emissions, such as D-Carbonize. These tools allow emissions to be collected, analyzed and reported, while identifying potential areas of double entry. Some of these software programs offer automated alerts to flag duplicates or inconsistencies in the data

For some industries, sectoral databases have been developed to help standardize and clarify emissions attributions. These databases can provide specific emission factors and guidelines to avoid double counting.

Attribution techniques

Control-based attribution is a method of allocating emissions based on the level of control a company has over the emission source. If a company is in full control of an emissions source, it is fully responsible for it. On the other hand, if control is shared, a proportional division of emissions is appropriate.

Influence-based attribution is another approach that considers the level of influence a company can exert to reduce a given emission. If a company can influence a supplier's practices to reduce emissions, it may be required to account for those emissions.

Inter-company collaboration

Companies can establish formal partnerships with their suppliers, customers, and other partners to openly share emissions data. These agreements can define the allocation of emissions and thus help avoid duplicates.

Collaborative platforms or sectoral consortia can also be created to facilitate the exchange of information and best practices. These platforms can also help standardize methodologies and collectively solve the challenges of double entry.

Proper management of double entry in Scope 3 is paramount to ensure an accurate assessment of a company's carbon footprint. The use of appropriate solutions, such as our carbon footprint calculation software, attribution techniques and cross-company collaborations is crucial. By addressing this complexity seriously, companies ensure not only their transparency, but also the effectiveness of their actions to reduce their impact on the climate.

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