Shifting the Focus to Scope 3 Emissions: Addressing the Majority of a Company's Carbon Footprint
As businesses worldwide increasingly prioritise sustainability and climate action, the focus on emissions reduction has expanded beyond Scope 1 and Scope 2 emissions to include Scope 3 emissions. Scope 3 emissions account for the majority of a company's carbon footprint, often estimated at around 80%. In this article, we'll explore why the focus is shifting towards Scope 3 emissions and the importance of addressing these emissions in a company's sustainability strategy.
Defining Scope 1, Scope 2, and Scope 3 Emissions
- Scope 1 Emissions: These emissions come from sources owned or controlled by a company, such as emissions from fuel combustion in company-owned vehicles or manufacturing processes.
- Scope 2 Emissions: These emissions result from the generation of purchased electricity, heat, or steam consumed by a company. Scope 2 emissions account for the indirect emissions associated with a company's energy consumption.
- Scope 3 Emissions: These emissions are indirect emissions not covered in Scope 2, occurring in a company's value chain. Scope 3 emissions include activities such as business travel, employee commuting, waste disposal, and the extraction and production of purchased materials and fuels.
Why the Focus is Shifting to Scope 3 Emissions
There are several reasons behind the increasing focus on Scope 3 emissions:
- Majority of Emissions: Scope 3 emissions often account for the largest share of a company's carbon footprint. By addressing Scope 3 emissions, businesses can make a more significant impact on their overall greenhouse gas emissions and contribute more effectively to global climate goals.
- Increased Stakeholder Pressure: Investors, customers, and regulators are increasingly demanding that companies demonstrate transparency and accountability in their entire value chain. By addressing Scope 3 emissions, businesses can meet stakeholder expectations and mitigate reputational risks.
- Competitive Advantage: Companies that proactively tackle Scope 3 emissions are better positioned to adapt to changing market conditions, reduce costs through efficiency improvements, and differentiate themselves from competitors.
- Regulatory Requirements: Emerging regulations and standards, such as the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD) and Science-Based Targets initiative (SBTi), increasingly require businesses to report on and reduce their Scope 3 emissions.
As the focus shifts from Scope 1 and Scope 2 emissions to the more significant and far-reaching Scope 3 emissions, businesses must adapt their sustainability strategies accordingly. By addressing Scope 3 emissions, companies can make a more substantial impact on reducing their overall carbon footprint, meet stakeholder expectations, and stay ahead in an increasingly competitive and regulated market. It's crucial for businesses to assess and manage their entire value chain to ensure a more sustainable and resilient future.