Where do you start, what’s the scope when starting to measure your carbon footprint?

In this final part before our live webinar on carbon footprinting, we arrived at the very beginning: scoping your project, what will you take into scope and what not …

To avoid any confusion with the three emissions scopes we add again the short explanation of those (as they are relevant in today’s topic) but the scope we want to address today is about what do you take with you in terms of collection relevant data to define your carbon footprint and what should or could you leave out and still be compliant ?

So a quick overview of the three emission scopes: refering to different levels of emissions within a given organization or system. They are:

  1. Scope 1 emissions: Direct emissions that result from sources owned or controlled by the organization, such as emissions from boilers, vehicles and other on-site equipment.
  2. Scope 2 emissions: Indirect emissions that result from the generation of energy purchased by the organization, such as emissions from electricity purchased from the grid.
  3. Scope 3 emissions: All other indirect emissions that result from activities related to the organization but not owned or controlled by the organization, such as emissions from the supply chain, employee commuting, and waste disposal.

It’s important to measure and report emissions from all three scopes as a comprehensive approach to sustainability, as well as to understand the impact of the organization’s activities on the environment and make informed decisions for reducing emissions. And this brings us to the actual start of your measurements: where do you start and what is required ?

A couple of questions that can help you in defining your scope:

  1. What activities and emissions will be included in the assessment? Will the assessment include direct emissions from operations, such as energy use and transportation, as well as indirect emissions, such as the emissions associated with the procurement of goods and services?
  2. What geographical boundaries will be included in the assessment? Will the assessment include emissions from all of the organization’s operations, or only a subset of them?
  3. What time period will be covered by the assessment? Will the assessment cover a specific time period, such as a year, or will it cover a longer period of time, such as several years or the entire history of the organization?
  4. How will the organization’s emissions be measured and quantified? Will the organization use a carbon calculator or other tool to calculate its emissions, or will it use other methods, such as inventorying its emissions directly?
  5. Who will be responsible for collecting and analyzing the data for the assessment? Will the organization have the necessary resources and expertise to conduct the assessment in-house, or will it need to engage an external provider?

Answering these questions can help an organization define the scope of its carbon footprint assessment and ensure that it is comprehensive and relevant. It is important to carefully consider these questions and consult with relevant stakeholders to ensure that the scope of the assessment is appropriate for the organization’s needs and goals.

To answer what is legally the minimal required scope for reporting an organization’s carbon footprint, the answer varies depending on the sector and size of your organization, as well as any relevant regulations or guidelines.¬†For example, the European Union’s non-financial reporting directive (2014/95/EU) requires large public-interest entities to disclose information on their environmental impact, including greenhouse gas emissions, as part of their annual financial reporting. However, the directive does not specify the minimum required scope for emissions reporting. In addition, the Belgian Federal Government has set a target for reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 80-95% by 2050, and has implemented several measures to encourage organizations to measure and reduce their carbon footprint, including tax incentives and grants for energy-saving projects. Those incentives and grants are relevant to look into before defining your scope.

The following list can be useful to help you in finding out what the sector specific requirements are and can help you defining your organization’s scope:

  1. Government agencies: The Belgian Federal Government has implemented several measures to encourage organizations to measure and reduce their carbon footprint. You can contact relevant government agencies such as the Federal Public Service Environment, Nature and Energy, or the Federal Public Service Economy, SMEs, Self-Employed and Energy for information on sector-specific requirements.
  2. Industry associations: Many industry associations have established guidelines and best practices for carbon footprint reporting. You can reach out to relevant industry associations for information on sector-specific requirements for your organization.
  3. International reporting standards: The Greenhouse Gas Protocol, the most widely used international standard for carbon footprint reporting, provides sector-specific guidance for companies to measure, report and manage their carbon emissions. You can find the sector-specific standards on their website.

There is no general rule or set very concrete guidelines that define the exact scope for your carbon footprinting, if you’re in doubt we would advise to check the Greenhouse Gas Protocol. With that we can only advise to take the information we touched upon the potential added value in the war for talent and the brand image and how carbon reporting can be an interesting start for smart investments to save money. All of this combined gives you a solid base to define your scope and get the most out of your carbon footprint report.