The ultimate guide to Scope 3 GHG emissions accounting and reporting

As concerns about climate change continue to mount, every business – including yours – is under increasing pressure to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and minimise environmental impact.

While a lot of attention has been given to Scope 1 and Scope 2 emissions (direct emissions from operations and indirect energy-related emissions), Scope 3 emissions, which are much more difficult to measure, are often deprioritised despite their significant contribution to an organisation’s carbon footprint.

Understanding and accounting for Scope 3 emissions is essential for your business, demonstrating your commitment to sustainability as well as meeting regulatory requirements, helping to attract investors, and enhancing your reputation among customers and stakeholders.

Here are important insights into Scope 3 GHG emissions accounting and reporting, providing your business with the knowledge and tools you need to navigate this critical aspect of sustainability management. We’ll also look at the most effective Scope 3 accounting platform to assist your business with this challenge.

What are Scope 3 GHG emissions?

Scope 3 GHG emissions refer to the indirect greenhouse gas emissions associated with an organisation’s activities that occur outside its own boundaries. These emissions result from the entire value chain, including suppliers, customers, transportation, waste, and more.

 

Importance of Scope 3 GHG emissions accounting and reporting

While Scope 1 and Scope 2 emissions provide valuable insights into an organisation’s operational carbon footprint, they often account for only a fraction of its total emissions. Scope 3 emissions, on the other hand, can make up the majority—sometimes over 90%—of a company’s carbon footprint. As you can see, avoiding or limiting efforts towards Scope 3 emissions can result in an incomplete understanding of an organisation’s environmental impact and set back your efforts to develop effective sustainability strategies.

Additionally, accurate and transparent reporting of Scope 3 emissions is increasingly important for your business if you want to align operations with global sustainability initiatives, such as the Science-based Targets Initiative and the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD). 

The changing ESG landscape is being primarily shaped by regulatory pressures, such as the EU’s Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive and the USA’s Climate Disclosure Rules. Additionally, there is a global ambition to achieve a 50% reduction in emissions by 2030, further driving regulatory and societal responses.

Investor and consumer pressures are also growing, demanding proactive integration of ESG into business strategy to meet stakeholder expectations and demonstrate positive outcomes.

By accounting for Scope 3 emissions, your business can set meaningful emissions reduction targets, enhance your resilience to climate-related risks, and demonstrate your commitment to sustainable practices to your investors, customers, and other stakeholders.

The top 10 challenges of calculating Scope 3 GHG emissions

Because they occur outside of your business’s direct control, Scope 3 emissions are the most difficult – yet possibly the most impactful – emissions to calculate and reduce. For most organisations, the key challenges include:

  1. Data collection: Gathering data on Scope 3 emissions across the entire value chain can be a daunting task. It involves collecting information from suppliers, customers, and other partners, which may not always be readily available or standardised.
  2. Data quality: Ensuring the accuracy and reliability of the collected data is crucial for calculating Scope 3 emissions accurately. However, data quality can vary significantly, with inconsistencies, gaps, and errors posing challenges to the calculation process.
  3. Methodological complexity: The GHG Protocol offers multiple methods for calculating Scope 3 emissions, each with its own set of complexities and considerations. Choosing the appropriate method for each emission source requires expertise and careful evaluation.
  4. Scope & boundary determination: Defining the boundaries of what constitutes Scope 3 emissions for a particular organisation can be challenging. Differentiating between upstream and downstream emissions, and identifying relevant emission sources within the value chain requires careful consideration.
  5. Emissions factors: Getting accurate emissions factors for various activities and emission sources is essential for calculating Scope 3 emissions. However, sourcing reliable and up-to-date emissions factors can be difficult, particularly for less common activities or industries.
  6. Scope 3 categories: Scope 3 emissions encompass a wide range of categories, including purchased goods and services, transportation, waste, and employee commuting. Each category presents its own challenges in terms of data collection, calculation methodology, and emissions factors.
  7. Data aggregation and reporting: Pulling data together from such a wide range of sources and compiling it into a coherent report can be time-consuming and labour-intensive. Ensuring consistency and transparency in reporting while meeting regulatory requirements adds another layer of complexity.
  8. Supplier engagement: Engaging with suppliers to obtain data on their emissions and environmental performance can be challenging, particularly if they are not accustomed to providing such information. Building strong relationships and incentivising transparency are essential for effective supplier engagement.
  9. Cost & resource constraints: Calculating Scope 3 emissions requires significant time, resources, and expertise. Many businesses, especially smaller ones, may face constraints in terms of budget, staff, or technical capabilities, making it challenging to undertake comprehensive emissions accounting.
  10. Changing regulatory landscape: The regulatory landscape surrounding GHG emissions reporting is continuously evolving, with new requirements, standards, and reporting frameworks emerging over time. Staying ahead of these changes and ensuring compliance adds complexity to the calculation process.

This is where tools like ESG Optimiser come into play, offering an invaluable and comprehensive solution to address these challenges your business is facing!

Struggling to get on top of your Scope 3 reporting?

Managing all the frameworks that you need to comply with can be complex, and with accurate Scope 3 data sourced externally, time, effort and resource can be hugely expensive.

With our ESG Optimiser solution, all tasks are done in one place. You’ll automate collection into a single data set, offering suppliers direct data entry, and the ability to share performance insights in return, plus fully integrated framework reporting.

ESG Optimiser – comprehensive Scope 3 accounting and reporting software

ESG Optimiser simplifies Scope 3 emissions accounting and reporting by automating key processes and providing robust features tailored to the needs of your business. Here’s how  ESG Optimiser Scope 3 GHG accounting and reporting platform tackles the challenges of Scope 3 emissions accounting and reporting while maximising benefits for you and your business:

  • Automated Data Management: ESG Optimiser automates the collection, organisation, and management of data related to Scope 3 emissions. Its advanced capabilities streamline the process, reducing the time and resources required for data gathering and preparation.
  • GHG Protocol Compliance: ESG Optimiser ensures compliance with GHG Protocol standards by supporting all GHG Protocol methodologies for calculating Scope 3 emissions. Whether it’s the spend-based method, average-data method, hybrid method, or supplier-specific method, ESG Optimiser has you covered.
  • Accuracy and Reliability: With ESG Optimiser, accuracy is a priority. The tool employs advanced Natural Language Processing (NLP) models to categorise data accurately, while over 40,000 embedded emission factors ensure precise calculations. This results in reliable data and reporting, crucial for making informed decisions and meeting sustainability goals.
  • Reduced Administrative Burden: By automating data management tasks and calculations, ESG Optimiser reduces the administrative burden on business owners and sustainability professionals. This frees up time and resources that can be allocated to strategic initiatives aimed at reducing emissions and improving environmental performance.
  • Customisable Reporting: ESG Optimiser offers customisable reporting features, including PowerReports embedded with Microsoft Power BI. These reports provide dynamic data visualisations that help business owners and stakeholders track progress, identify trends, and communicate effectively.
  • Enhanced Stakeholder Engagement: Transparent and accurate reporting facilitated by ESG Optimiser enhances stakeholder engagement. Whether it’s investors, customers, or regulatory agencies, stakeholders appreciate businesses’ commitment to environmental transparency and accountability.
  • Improved Decision-Making: With reliable data and insights provided by ESG Optimiser, you can make informed decisions that drive sustainability and business success. Whether it’s optimising supply chains, investing in renewable energy, or implementing efficiency measures, ESG Optimiser empowers your business to take meaningful action.

See how to automate Scope 3 emissions data for yourself, with a demo of ESG Optimiser

ESG Optimiser powered by IBM Envizi is an end-to-end business sustainability solution, coupled with Ikano Insight analytics tools, to simplify the capture, measurement, reporting and analysis of all your ESG and business sustainability data.

It’s a fully integrated tech platform that manages your decarbonisation programmes and helps ensure complete CSRD compliance.

Related content

5 reasons why automating Scope 1 & 2 GHG emissions reporting will benefit your business

Read more

The importance of efficient ESG reporting in the CSRD landscape

Read more

Get ready for European Sustainability Reporting Standards (ESRS)

Read more

The ultimate guide to Scope 3 GHG emissions accounting and reporting

Explore the importance of Scope 1 and 2 GHG emissions reporting for businesses and discover how GHG emissions software makes this easier....
READ POST

The ultimate guide to Scope 3 GHG emissions accounting and reporting

Explore the importance of Scope 1 and 2 GHG emissions reporting for businesses and discover how GHG emissions software makes this easier....
READ POST

The ultimate guide to Scope 3 GHG emissions accounting and reporting

Explore the importance of Scope 1 and 2 GHG emissions reporting for businesses and discover how GHG emissions software makes this easier....
READ POST

The ultimate guide to Scope 3 GHG emissions accounting and reporting

Explore the importance of Scope 1 and 2 GHG emissions reporting for businesses and discover how GHG emissions software makes this easier....
READ POST

The ultimate guide to Scope 3 GHG emissions accounting and reporting

Explore the importance of Scope 1 and 2 GHG emissions reporting for businesses and discover how GHG emissions software makes this easier....
READ POST

The ultimate guide to Scope 3 GHG emissions accounting and reporting

Explore the importance of Scope 1 and 2 GHG emissions reporting for businesses and discover how GHG emissions software makes this easier....
READ POST

The ultimate guide to Scope 3 GHG emissions accounting and reporting

Explore the importance of Scope 1 and 2 GHG emissions reporting for businesses and discover how GHG emissions software makes this easier....
READ POST

The ultimate guide to Scope 3 GHG emissions accounting and reporting

Explore the importance of Scope 1 and 2 GHG emissions reporting for businesses and discover how GHG emissions software makes this easier....
READ POST

The ultimate guide to Scope 3 GHG emissions accounting and reporting

Explore the importance of Scope 1 and 2 GHG emissions reporting for businesses and discover how GHG emissions software makes this easier....
READ POST

The ultimate guide to Scope 3 GHG emissions accounting and reporting

Explore the importance of Scope 1 and 2 GHG emissions reporting for businesses and discover how GHG emissions software makes this easier....
READ POST

The ultimate guide to Scope 3 GHG emissions accounting and reporting

Explore the importance of Scope 1 and 2 GHG emissions reporting for businesses and discover how GHG emissions software makes this easier....
READ POST
Sustainability

10 ways improving supply chain intelligence will impact your business

Learn how supply chain intelligence helps businesses reduce greenhouse gas emissions and achieve sustainability goals....
READ POST

The ultimate guide to Scope 3 GHG emissions accounting and reporting

Explore the importance of Scope 1 and 2 GHG emissions reporting for businesses and discover how GHG emissions software makes this easier....
READ POST

The ultimate guide to Scope 3 GHG emissions accounting and reporting

Explore the importance of Scope 1 and 2 GHG emissions reporting for businesses and discover how GHG emissions software makes this easier....
READ POST

The ultimate guide to Scope 3 GHG emissions accounting and reporting

Explore the importance of Scope 1 and 2 GHG emissions reporting for businesses and discover how GHG emissions software makes this easier....
READ POST

The ultimate guide to Scope 3 GHG emissions accounting and reporting

Explore the importance of Scope 1 and 2 GHG emissions reporting for businesses and discover how GHG emissions software makes this easier....
READ POST

The ultimate guide to Scope 3 GHG emissions accounting and reporting

Explore the importance of Scope 1 and 2 GHG emissions reporting for businesses and discover how GHG emissions software makes this easier....
READ POST

The ultimate guide to Scope 3 GHG emissions accounting and reporting

Explore the importance of Scope 1 and 2 GHG emissions reporting for businesses and discover how GHG emissions software makes this easier....
READ POST

The ultimate guide to Scope 3 GHG emissions accounting and reporting

Explore the importance of Scope 1 and 2 GHG emissions reporting for businesses and discover how GHG emissions software makes this easier....
READ POST

The ultimate guide to Scope 3 GHG emissions accounting and reporting

Explore the importance of Scope 1 and 2 GHG emissions reporting for businesses and discover how GHG emissions software makes this easier....
READ POST

The ultimate guide to Scope 3 GHG emissions accounting and reporting

Explore the importance of Scope 1 and 2 GHG emissions reporting for businesses and discover how GHG emissions software makes this easier....
READ POST

The ultimate guide to Scope 3 GHG emissions accounting and reporting

Explore the importance of Scope 1 and 2 GHG emissions reporting for businesses and discover how GHG emissions software makes this easier....
READ POST

The ultimate guide to Scope 3 GHG emissions accounting and reporting

Explore the importance of Scope 1 and 2 GHG emissions reporting for businesses and discover how GHG emissions software makes this easier....
READ POST

The ultimate guide to Scope 3 GHG emissions accounting and reporting

Explore the importance of Scope 1 and 2 GHG emissions reporting for businesses and discover how GHG emissions software makes this easier....
READ POST

The ultimate guide to Scope 3 GHG emissions accounting and reporting

Explore the importance of Scope 1 and 2 GHG emissions reporting for businesses and discover how GHG emissions software makes this easier....
READ POST

The ultimate guide to Scope 3 GHG emissions accounting and reporting

Explore the importance of Scope 1 and 2 GHG emissions reporting for businesses and discover how GHG emissions software makes this easier....
READ POST

The ultimate guide to Scope 3 GHG emissions accounting and reporting

Explore the importance of Scope 1 and 2 GHG emissions reporting for businesses and discover how GHG emissions software makes this easier....
READ POST

The ultimate guide to Scope 3 GHG emissions accounting and reporting

Explore the importance of Scope 1 and 2 GHG emissions reporting for businesses and discover how GHG emissions software makes this easier....
READ POST

The ultimate guide to Scope 3 GHG emissions accounting and reporting

Explore the importance of Scope 1 and 2 GHG emissions reporting for businesses and discover how GHG emissions software makes this easier....
READ POST

The ultimate guide to Scope 3 GHG emissions accounting and reporting

Explore the importance of Scope 1 and 2 GHG emissions reporting for businesses and discover how GHG emissions software makes this easier....
READ POST

The ultimate guide to Scope 3 GHG emissions accounting and reporting

Explore the importance of Scope 1 and 2 GHG emissions reporting for businesses and discover how GHG emissions software makes this easier....
READ POST

The ultimate guide to Scope 3 GHG emissions accounting and reporting

Explore the importance of Scope 1 and 2 GHG emissions reporting for businesses and discover how GHG emissions software makes this easier....
READ POST

The ultimate guide to Scope 3 GHG emissions accounting and reporting

Explore the importance of Scope 1 and 2 GHG emissions reporting for businesses and discover how GHG emissions software makes this easier....
READ POST

The ultimate guide to Scope 3 GHG emissions accounting and reporting

Explore the importance of Scope 1 and 2 GHG emissions reporting for businesses and discover how GHG emissions software makes this easier....
READ POST

The ultimate guide to Scope 3 GHG emissions accounting and reporting

Explore the importance of Scope 1 and 2 GHG emissions reporting for businesses and discover how GHG emissions software makes this easier....
READ POST

The ultimate guide to Scope 3 GHG emissions accounting and reporting

Explore the importance of Scope 1 and 2 GHG emissions reporting for businesses and discover how GHG emissions software makes this easier....
READ POST

The ultimate guide to Scope 3 GHG emissions accounting and reporting

Explore the importance of Scope 1 and 2 GHG emissions reporting for businesses and discover how GHG emissions software makes this easier....
READ POST

The ultimate guide to Scope 3 GHG emissions accounting and reporting

Explore the importance of Scope 1 and 2 GHG emissions reporting for businesses and discover how GHG emissions software makes this easier....
READ POST

The ultimate guide to Scope 3 GHG emissions accounting and reporting

Explore the importance of Scope 1 and 2 GHG emissions reporting for businesses and discover how GHG emissions software makes this easier....
READ POST

The ultimate guide to Scope 3 GHG emissions accounting and reporting

Explore the importance of Scope 1 and 2 GHG emissions reporting for businesses and discover how GHG emissions software makes this easier....
READ POST

The ultimate guide to Scope 3 GHG emissions accounting and reporting

Explore the importance of Scope 1 and 2 GHG emissions reporting for businesses and discover how GHG emissions software makes this easier....
READ POST

The ultimate guide to Scope 3 GHG emissions accounting and reporting

Explore the importance of Scope 1 and 2 GHG emissions reporting for businesses and discover how GHG emissions software makes this easier....
READ POST

The ultimate guide to Scope 3 GHG emissions accounting and reporting

Explore the importance of Scope 1 and 2 GHG emissions reporting for businesses and discover how GHG emissions software makes this easier....
READ POST

The ultimate guide to Scope 3 GHG emissions accounting and reporting

Explore the importance of Scope 1 and 2 GHG emissions reporting for businesses and discover how GHG emissions software makes this easier....
READ POST

The ultimate guide to Scope 3 GHG emissions accounting and reporting

Explore the importance of Scope 1 and 2 GHG emissions reporting for businesses and discover how GHG emissions software makes this easier....
READ POST

The ultimate guide to Scope 3 GHG emissions accounting and reporting

Explore the importance of Scope 1 and 2 GHG emissions reporting for businesses and discover how GHG emissions software makes this easier....
READ POST

The ultimate guide to Scope 3 GHG emissions accounting and reporting

Explore the importance of Scope 1 and 2 GHG emissions reporting for businesses and discover how GHG emissions software makes this easier....
READ POST

© 2023 Ikano Insight. All rights reserved