GHGs are emitted from different sources across a company’s value chain. In order to simplify the accounting process, these are divided into Scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions, which can each be tackled separately. The concept of 'Scopes' is defined by the most widely-used international accounting tool, the GHG Protocol corporate standard.

Scope 1 – All Direct Emissions from the activities of an organisation or under their control. Including fuel combustion on site such as gas boilers, fleet vehicles and air-conditioning leaks.

  • Who does this apply to? These emissions will be large for companies in sectors such as manufacturing, energy and freight that create a lot of their own emissions on site. However, they are likely to be lower for companies in sectors like professional services, financial services and information technology.

Scope 2 – Indirect Emissions from electricity purchased and used by the organisation. Emissions are created during the production of the energy and eventually used by the organisation.

  • Who does this apply to? Most companies will have some amount of these emissions, and they are relatively straightforward to calculate using the simplest methodology put forward by the GHG Protocol.

Scope 3 – Also known as ‘value chain‘ emissions. This is all other indirect emissions from activities of the organisation, occurring from sources that they do not own or control. These are usually the greatest share of the carbon footprint, covering emissions associated with business travel, procurement, waste and water.

  • Who does this apply to? All companies have value chains and therefore will have Scope 3 emissions. Professional services, financial services, and information technology may not have large Scope 1 emissions, but scope 3 will largely make up the majority of total emissions.