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Scope 3: GHG Protocol Guidance


The GHG Protocol is a major framework enabling organizations to measure and manage their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, in particular Scope 3 emissions. Scope 3 encompasses a company's upstream and downstream indirect emissions, such as those linked to the purchase of goods and services, energy production, business travel, etc.
Measuring these emissions offers companies a number of advantages, including the opportunity to stand out in a sustainability-driven market, save money and strengthen their brand image. Scope 3 emissions often represent the majority of a company's total emissions, so reducing them presents a significant opportunity to combat climate change.
By using tools such as the GHG Protocol and specialized software such as our carbon footprint calculation software , organizations can not only meet regulatory requirements but also play a leading role in the transition to a sustainable future.
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The GHG Protocol, a major reference framework, helps organizations measure and manage their emissions, including Scope 3 emissions. In this article, find out what Scope 3 is under the GHG Protocol, and why measuring its emissions represents a real opportunity for companies.

A man reading the GHG protocol guide

What is the GHG Protocol?

The GHG Protocol, or Greenhouse Gas Protocol, is an internationally recognized standard for accounting and reporting greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions created in 1998. It serves as a global framework for governments, businesses and other organizations to measure, manage and reduce their GHG emissions.

The GHG Protocol has several objectives:

Standardize measurement through a standardized methodology for measuring GHG emissions.

Foster transparency: Helping organizations present their emissions in a transparent, verifiable, and consistent manner.

Facilitating emission reductions: By enabling a better understanding and management of emissions, the GHG Protocol encourages the implementation of reduction strategies.

Promote stakeholder engagement: Provide a framework for companies to engage their suppliers, partners, and customers in the fight against climate change.

The GHG Protocol offers many tools to help organizations measure their emissions, which cover a wide range of greenhouse gasses, such as carbon dioxide (CO2) and methane (CH4).

Measuring Scope 3 emissions accurately is an opportunity for companies to stand out and thrive in a sustainability-driven market

a man who has calculated his scope 3 emissions using the GHG protocol guide and is seeing his business prosper.

Scope 3 under the GHG Protocol

Upstream Emissions

Upstream Scope 3 emissions refer to all greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions that are generated before the company's internal operations begin.

Purchase of goods and services

Every product or service a company buys has its own carbon footprint. Raw materials, machinery, or even services like consulting and maintenance all have emissions associated with their production or delivery.

Purchased Energy Generation

The energy purchased by a company (electricity, heating or cooling) has a major impact on its carbon footprint. Companies opting for renewable energy will generally have lower upstream emissions compared to those using fossil fuel energy.

Transmission and distribution (upstream)

The transport of raw materials to the production site and the distribution of intermediate products must also be taken into account. The distance traveled, the mode of transport used, as well as the efficiency of the vehicles all have an influence on the total level of emissions.

Business and commuting

Business travel, whether by plane, train or car, as well as employees' daily commute to and from work, represents a significant source of Scope 3 emissions. By promoting practices such as telecommuting, carpooling or the use of public transport, companies can significantly reduce these emissions.

Other upstream indirect emissions

There are also a multitude of upstream emission sources that are specific to each organization and need to be accounted for in its Scope 3.

Downstream Emissions

Scope 3 downstream emissions encompass all greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions that occur after a company's products or services have been sold to the end customer.

Use of goods and services sold

One of the major sources of downstream emissions is the use of products or services sold by a company. For example, if a company sells electrical appliances, emissions resulting from consumers' use of those appliances are considered downstream emissions.

Transmission and distribution (downstream)

After a product is sold, emissions can be generated during its transport to additional distribution points, warehouses or directly to the end consumer.

End of product life

When a product reaches the end of its useful life, it must be disposed of or recycled. Each disposal method, whether it be recycling, landfilling, incineration, or other methods, has its own associated emissions.

Other indirect downstream emissions

There are also other potential sources of downstream emissions that may vary depending on the company's industry or industry. These emissions, while sometimes overlooked, can contribute significantly to an organization's overall carbon footprint.

Why measure Scope 3 emissions?

In an increasingly climate-conscious world, companies that consider their Scope 3 emissions can stand out from the competition. This can translate into a competitive advantage in the market, especially in sectors where eco-responsibility has become a key purchasing criterion for consumers.

Additionally, by identifying sources of emissions in their supply chain, companies can identify opportunities for energy efficiency, lower transportation costs, as well as other savings that can reduce both their carbon footprint and expenses.

In addition, consumers, investors and other stakeholders attach great importance to corporate environmental responsibility. By measuring and striving to reduce their Scope 3 emissions, companies can strengthen their brand image and reputation as responsible actors. Similarly, many regulations around the world require companies to account for their GHG emissions, including Scope 3 emissions.

Finally, Scope 3 emissions often account for the majority of a company's total emissions. Therefore, addressing these emissions offers an opportunity to achieve significant emissions reductions for organizations.

Consideration of Scope 3 emissions is essential for all organizations. Thanks to the GHG Protocol and the use of dedicated software like the carbon footprint calculation software D-Carbonize, companies have a reliable tool to measure, report, and ultimately reduce their emissions, reinforcing their commitment to a sustainable future. By aligning with these standards, organizations can not only meet regulatory expectations, but also position themselves as eco-responsible leaders in their industry.

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