What is climate change?

Climate change refers to large-scale shifts in the climate being driven by human activities that release carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases to the atmosphere. These changes in the climate are impacting society in several ways such as an increase in extreme weather, greater frequency and severity of wildfires, and increase in food and water insecurity. The term “climate change” in general audiences refers to the human-made climate changes and is often used interchangeably.

What do we mean when we say GHG emissions and CO2e?

GHG emissions are greenhouse gas emissions. Sometimes people refer to these as “carbon emissions”. In reality, carbon dioxide is one of the most commonly emitted GHGs, but there are actually many other types of GHGs. Several of the most commonly encountered of these are set out in the table on the next page.

Different GHGs have different levels of “Global Warming Potential” (GWP). In order to add the impact of these emissions together, we convert them into a standard metric called “Carbon dioxide equivalent” or CO2e, for short.

What is the GHG Protocol?

It’s important that companies measuring their GHG emissions do so in a standardized way. The GHG Protocol’s mission is to develop internationally-accepted greenhouse gas (GHG) accounting and reporting standards for organizations and to promote their broad adoption. The GHG Protocol Corporate Standard is the internationally-recognized go-to standard for estimating and reporting corporate GHG emissions. It was first published in 2001 by the World Resources Institute (WRI) and the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD). It provides requirements and guidance for companies and other organizations preparing a corporate-level GHG emissions inventory.

GHG accounting has an accepted set of principles, in the same way financial accounting does. This is for companies preparing a corporate-level GHG emissions inventory. These principles are relevance, completeness, consistency, transparency and accuracy.

The GHG Protocol splits out emissions to scopes, and Cozero aligns to this

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.

How do we calculate emissions?

Business activity * Emission factor = CO2e

Business activities are a company’s actions that generate GHG emissions, for instance electricity use in buildings, and employee travel to work. Cozero Log emission categories cover the breadth of business activities that a business has. To build a Log, enter raw data —utility bills, purchase orders, travel records, cloud usage reports, and more.

Emission factors are conversion factors that translate a business activity or process data point into emission output data. Typically, emission factors are specific footprints of products, semi-finished products, processes or bundles of processes / services. Cozero has an aggregated database of global emission factor datasets that power the platforms calculation algorithms and allow users to easily derive footprint insights based on their business activities.

On Cozero Log we multiply the business activity data entered under emission categories by the emission factor and you get tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent, or tCO2e, a measure of your business’s contribution to climate change.

What is the carbon footprint?

A carbon footprint measures the GHG emissions from all the activities across an organisation or for a specific product or service. There are two main types of carbon footprint:

  • Organisational carbon footprint - An organisational carbon footprint measures GHG emissions from all activities across a company. This includes energy used in buildings and industrial processes, company owned vehicles and may measure indirect emissions associated with activities outside an organisation’s own operations - the value chain. Value chain analysis looks at every step a business goes through, from raw materials to the eventual end-user.
  • Product/service carbon footprint - A product carbon footprint measures the GHG emissions over the life of a product or service. This involves calculating emissions from the extraction of raw materials and manufacturing, through to emissions associated with the use and disposal of a particular product.

Carbon footprints enable you to identify and quantify your key emissions sources. This helps pinpoint the opportunities to reduce carbon emissions within your organisation, allowing you to monitor and manage carbon emissions by setting emissions reduction targets and measuring your progress.