carbon emissions and pylons at sunset

What are Scope 1, 2 and 3 carbon emissions?

December 3, 2023
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Scotland has pledged to hit Net Zero by 2045 – which means that businesses need to start taking measures to reduce their carbon footprint.  

As carbon emissions make up around 81% of global greenhouse gas emissions –  and businesses are responsible for the vast majority of this damage – companies of  all sizes have a responsibility to lead the way towards a carbon-neutral future.  

Your Carbon Emissions can be split into three groups – Scope 1, Scope 2, and  Scope 3. Your emissions can also be split into two broad categories – direct and  indirect.  

With that in mind, here is a detailed breakdown of each of the different Carbon Emission scopes: 

Carbon Emission Scope 1: Direct  

Scope 1 Carbon Emissions – also known as what you “burn” – come directly from sources owned or controlled by the business.  

Scope 1 Emissions can be split into four distinct groups:  

  1. Stationary Combustion: Emissions from heating sources such as boilers.
  2. Mobile Combustion: The fuel used by any vehicles owned or controlled by a  business, such as your fleets of cars or vans.  
  3. Fugitive Emissions: Leaks from sources such as refrigeration or air conditioning units.  
  4. Process Emissions: Any emissions that are released as part of your industrial and manufacturing processes, such as factory fumes or chemicals.  

Carbon Emission Scope 2: Indirect / Upstream  

Scope 2 Carbon Emissions – also known as what you “buy” – are indirect emissions  that come from the generation of energy that your business purchases to go about  daily operations.  

Examples of Scope 2 emissions include: 

  • Electricity used within your premises, such as for lighting and heating.
  • Any steam, heat, and cooling either used or produced within your buildings  or as part of your production processes.

Carbon Emission Scope 3: All other emissions  

Scope 3 includes all other indirect emissions that come from your business; also known as everything “beyond” what your business burns and buys. 

As it is quite broad, Scope 3 will likely cover the majority of your emissions. They  can be split into two groups: upstream and downstream activities. 

Upstream Activities  

  • Any form of business travel, including by plane, train, taxi, bus, private  vehicles, and more.
  • Employee commutes.
  • Waste your business sends to landfill.  
  • Wastewater treatments.
  • Products related to business production, such as components and parts.
  • Products unrelated to business production, such as furniture, IT systems, and office supplies.  
  • Third-party warehousing.  
  • Any transportation involved in the production or manufacturing process
  • Capital goods, such as buildings and vehicles, or machinery.  

Downstream Activities  

  • Relevant investments, such as project finances, and debt, equity, and  managed investments.  
  • Business franchise emissions that would not fall under the franchisee’s  Scope 1 and 2 reporting. 
  • Any leased assets.
  • Emissions that come from the use of your products or services by customers.
  • End-of-life treatment of your products or services, such as how they are  disposed of at the end of their lifecycle.

It is a legal requirement to report on Scope 1 and 2 emissions for your business. Reporting on Scope 3 emissions is voluntary due to the complexities around  measuring them. However, as this is where the majority of your carbon impact will  come from, it is recommended that businesses try to be as accurate as possible in  this scope too, to make the biggest difference.  

In conclusion, what are Carbon Emission Scopes 1, 2, and 3?  

We hope this blog has helped you to understand what the different carbon emission scopes are, and what activity fits within Scope 1, 2, and 3 of your energy consumption.  

If you are committed to reducing your carbon impact and achieving net zero, the first step is  understanding where your emissions come from. Carbon monitoring is one of the key ways to measure your current footprint and identify areas where changes could be made.  

If you would like to learn more about Carbon Monitoring and the benefits it has for your business, we recommend that you read these blogs: 

Why is Carbon Monitoring important?

How can Carbon Monitoring make me more profitable?

At Utili-Tay, we are driven to help you achieve a greener future. Our Carbon Monitoring services will help you collate real-time analysis of your usage and wastage, so you can make a data-backed plan to make reductions to your carbon footprint.  If you would like to learn more, get in touch today to speak to one of our team.

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