Greenhouse Gas Protocol

By Simon Johns - Sep 19, 2023

The Greenhouse Gas Protocol is the world’s most-widely used framework to measure and account for an organization’s greenhouse gas emissions. The GHGP includes a set of globalized standards, tools, guidance and training for entities in the public and private sectors.

The protocol forms the basis of mandatory greenhouse gas reporting in countries including the United Kingdom, United States and member states of the European Union. Other countries such as Brazil, India, Mexico and the Philippines use the GHGP on a voluntary basis. In 2023, California introduced a law that mandates emissions disclosure for companies that do business in the state and that earn revenue of more than U.S.$1 billion per year. Almost all Fortune 500 responding to the Carbon Disclosure Project adhere to the GHGP.


The origins of the GHGP date to the late 1990s, when the World Resources Institute and the World Business Council for Sustainable Development published a report that urged action on addressing climate change. The report called for a standardized measurement methodology of greenhouse gas emissions.

The first edition of the GHGP was published in 2001 and has since been updated with additional guidance that clarifies how companies can measure emissions from electricity and other energy purchases and account for emissions from throughout their value chains. The GHGP comprises a range of tools companies can use to calculate their emissions and measure the benefits of climate change mitigation projects.

The GHGP is generally regarded as being more descriptive than ISO 14064, with more guidance and with real-world examples often included. It also addresses voluntary greenhouse gas targets, reflecting its focus on “aspirational” emissions scenarios, compared with the “standardization” method of ISO 14064.

>The GHGP can be viewed here.


The GHGP has several covers three emissions classifications, known as scopes, and certain areas of the value chain.

The Corporate Accounting and Reporting Standard provides the accounting platform for virtually every corporate GHG reporting program in the world. It covers the accounting and reporting of the greenhouse gases listed in the Kyoto Protocol: carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, hydrofluorocarbons, perfluorocarbons, sulfur hexafluoride and nitrogen trifluoride. It was updated in 2015 with the Scope 2 Guidance, which allows companies to credibly measure and report emissions from purchased or acquired electricity, steam, heat, and cooling.

The Corporate Value Chain Standard (Scope 3) accounts for emissions at the corporate level. It helps companies identify GHG reduction opportunities, track their performance and engage suppliers. The standard enables comparisons of a company’s emissions over time.

The Protocol Product Standard accounts for emissions at the individual product level and helps a company meet the same objectives at a product level.

The Project Protocol for Project Accounting is an accounting tool for quantifying the greenhouse gas benefits of climate change mitigation projects.


An organization or third party working on its behalf can use a set of calculation tools in the form of spreadsheets with accompanying guidance. These tools use “emission factors” that relate the organization’s activities to the emitted greenhouse gases. These emissions factors can be default or custom. Although encouraged to generate custom emissions factors, companies can enter activity data, such as distances, fuel consumption and electricity usage. The GHGP’s emissions factors are based on those of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.


The GHGP is widely applicable to almost every organization that wants to account for its greenhouse gas emissions.

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