Emissions Scopes

An organization’s greenhouse gas emissions can be divided into three categories, known as scopes, depending on their origin. Emissions scopes were introduced in the first Greenhouse Gas Protocol, published in 2001.

Scope 1
Direct emissions from owned or controlled sources, including onsite power generation, heating, manufacturing processes and vehicle fleet fuel. Example: steam generation for refining processes generated by the combustion of byproducts.

Scope 2
Indirect emissions from purchased electricity, steam and district heating/cooling for processes and facilities. Example: purchased electricity for heating product tanks and illuminating facilities.

Scope 3
All other indirect emissions derived from a company’s value chain, products and services. Scope 3 emissions can account for more than 70% of their carbon footprint but are also the hardest to calculate. Collaborating with suppliers, reducing your organization’s carbon footprint through product design, purchasing decisions and involvement in end-of-life or circular economy measure examples of how to emissions can be reduced and calculated. Example: extraction, transportation and refining crude oil, manufacture and transportation of additive chemicals, manufacture of packaging, distribution, end-user application, disposal.

Scope 4
Those emissions that can be avoided through the use of a particular or alternative product or service. If a corporation improves the efficiency of a product or service, this reduces the emissions arising through its use. However, these emission savings can be concealed, by, for example, the growing popularity and sales of that product or service. 

A growing number of the world’s companies, from the largest corporate entities to small and medium-sized enterprises, calculate and report their scope 1 and 2 emissions. Compared with scope 3, calculating scope 1 and 2 emissions is relatively straightforward. An example would be the fuel used by fleet vehicles (scope 1) or purchased electricity consumption per year at a facility (scope 2).