Two of the most popular international carbon emission reporting standards are the GHG protocol, and ISO 14064-1:2018. Both standards give guidance on how your company can universally account for, and report on, their organisational carbon emissions. The way the two standards guide business to account for their emissions is fundamentally the same, the difference comes in the reporting of those emissions. Below details how emissions are categorised and divided.
The GHG protocol splits emissions into 3 Scopes. ISO 14064-1:2018 splits emissions into 6 Categories (see Table 1 below).
Scope 1 emissions from the GHG protocol, or Category 1 from ISO standards, are direct emissions from sources that are owned or controlled by an organisation. These include emissions from the combustion of fossil fuels in boilers, fuel in fleet vehicles, greenhouse gas leakage from fridges and AC units. They also include the direct emissions from nitrogen fertiliser as N2O is released when fertiliser is applied.
Scope 2 emissions from the GHG protocol, or Category 2 from the ISO standard, are indirect emissions from the generation of purchased electricity, heat, or steam used by an organisation.
Scope 3 emissions from the GHG protocol are also indirect emissions, but they are emissions that are not produced directly by the company itself, but by those that they are indirectly responsible for, up and down the value chain.
Now this is where its starts to get confusing. The GHG protocol also splits Scope 3 emissions into 15 further categories (see Table 2 below). ISO 14064-1:2018 classifies Scope 3 emissions as Category 3, 4, 5 and 6. Which ever standard you use, they include things such as freight, business travel, waste, purchased goods, and end-of-life treatment of products.
Discovering which Scope 3 emissions are relevant to your business is part of understanding your total emissions profile. The GHG Protocol has comprehensive Scope 3 guidance to understand what is relevant and what can be measured. It can get complicated so reach out to an expert if it all gets too much.
Whether an organisation needs to report on their emissions depends on various factors such as industry, location, and size. In some countries, reporting emissions is a legal requirement for companies, while in others it is voluntary. Government expectations on who is required to report is constantly being updated.
Additionally, some organisations choose to report their emissions voluntarily as a way to demonstrate their commitment to sustainability and reduce their environmental impact. Global initiatives such as the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) and the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD) provide guidelines for companies to report their emissions.
Below further details how Scopes 1, 2 and 3 compare with ISO 14064-1:2018 Category's emissions:
Direct GHG emissions or removals
Burning of fuel, fertiliser application, leaking fridges
Indirect GHG emissions from energy
Indirect GHG emissions from Transportation
Employee commute, business travel, freight
Indirect from products an organisation uses
Working from home, water supply and wastewater
Indirect GHG emissions (use of products from the organisation)
End of life emissions, emissions from investments
Indirect emissions (other sources)
Specific emissions or removals which don't fall into another category.
Categorising scope 3 emissions
Purchased goods and services
Fuel and energy related activities not included in Scope 1 or 2
Upstream transportation and distribution
Waste generated in operations
Upstream leased assets
Downstream transportation and distribution
Processing of sold product
Use of sold products
End of life treatment for of sold products
Downstream leased assets