Increased focus on scope 3 carbon emissions

5 August 2020

Increased focus on scope 3 carbon emissions

Whilst many organisations have taken action to decarbonise their facilities, operations and purchased energy (Scope 1 and 2 emissions), a significant proportion of their climate impact lies within Scope 3 emissions which are located outside of their direct control.

The GHG Protocol defines Scope 3 emissions as “all indirect emissions that occur in the value chain of the reporting company, including both upstream and downstream”. This can include emissions from business travel not owned (e.g. a train or plane journeys), waste disposal processes that are not owned and controlled, purchased goods and services, and transportation and distribution (both up and downstream) amongst other things. Scope 3 emissions can often be the where the majority of emissions lie, and for some companies can be up to 97%, as reported by edie in their article here. Addressing Scope 3 emissions is therefore key for businesses seeking to align their targets with the Paris Agreement.

When a company sets targets as part of the Science Based Targets initiative, it is required to put a target in place to cover Scope 3 emissions where these represent more than 40% of the company’s overall emissions. Therefore, some organisations are adopting leadership positions and looking at how to engage the supply chain in reducing emissions.

Edie outline some notable examples of how businesses are doing this. Online fashion retail platform Zalando seeks to have 90% of its key suppliers set their own science-based targets, and O2 will work to implement more ambitious targets for individual suppliers and create incentives that encourage suppliers to decarbonise their own operations. See more examples and discussion around how Scope 3 emissions can be reduced in edie’s article here.

At IMS we consider the increased focus on targeting Scope 3 emissions to be an important and intrinsic part of sustainability practice. It is no longer acceptable to simply look within your own organisation and instead there is more and more focus on ensuring that good sustainability practices run through all areas of business operations.–Scope-3-carbon-emissions/492