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Scope 1 emissions from companies

What are scopes?

In the world of sustainability and carbon accounting, "scopes" refer to the categories of greenhouse gas emissions caused by an organization. This categorization helps companies to calculate their carbon footprint and define measures to reduce their emissions.

The origin of the Scopes dates back to 2001, when the Greenhouse Gas Protocol (GHG) created an international standard for emissions reporting. Prior to the introduction of the GHG Protocol, there was no generally accepted method by which companies could quantify their contribution to climate change. The clear division into Scopes 1, Scope 2 and Scope 3 enables companies to present a structured and comparable method for calculating and reporting their carbon footprint. In addition, the GHG Protocol and the scopes are the first uniform standard that is recognized by both companies and environmental organizations. 

What are Scope 1 emissions?

Scope 1 emissions include all direct emissions from sources owned or controlled by a company. Direct emissions under Scope 1 include, for example

  • Combustion systems: Emissions from heating systems that a company uses to operate its buildings and facilities. This also includes smaller emission sources such as emergency generators.
  • Company vehicles: Exhaust fumes from vehicles owned or controlled by the company.
  • Process emissions: Emissions that originate from industrial processes, such as cement production or chemical reactions in which CO₂ is released.
  • Volatile gases (F-gases) from air conditioning systems: Coolants from air conditioning systems in companies can also contribute to Scope 1 emissions in the event of leaks, as many of these gases have a very high greenhouse gas potential.

How do Scope 1 emissions differ from Scope 2 and 3 emissions?

While Scope 1 emissions relate to direct emissions from the company's own and controlled resources, Scope 2 and 3 emissions include emissions generated within the company's value chain.

Scope 2 emissions on the other hand, include indirect emissions from the generation of purchased or sourced energy. Typically, this refers to the electricity, district heating, district cooling or steam that a company purchases for its operations. Although the company does not generate these emissions directly, they are still part of its energy value chain and are therefore relevant for calculating the carbon footprint.

Scope 3 emissions are all other indirect emissions that arise in the company's upstream and downstream value chain. These can be far-reaching and include emissions from the production of purchased materials and services, emissions from the use of products and services sold and other indirect emissions such as business travel, employee commuting, waste disposal, etc.

A key difference between Scope 1, Scope 2 and Scope 3 emissions is a company's ability to control and influence these emissions. Scope 1 emissions can be influenced directly, as the amount consumed and the heating medium can be selected. In the case of Scope 2 emissions, the company has a certain amount of influence by selecting its energy suppliers and investing in energy efficiency. Scope 3 emissions are often more complex to handle, as they require a more in-depth consideration of the entire value chain and often have to be reduced in collaboration with suppliers and partners.

How does Scope 1 vary by division?

Different business models lead to a variance in the direct emissions that fall under Scope 1. For most companies, the strategy for reducing these operational emissions means switching to energy-efficient office space, maintaining heating and cooling systems or switching from fossil fuels to an electric vehicle fleet.

However, there are also companies whose majority of emissions are in Scope 1. In the manufacturing sector in particular, such as in the construction industry or in materials processing, where steel production plays a role, most emissions are generated directly at the production site. Here, the reduction of Scope 1 emissions requires innovative approaches, the use of new technologies and a strong commitment to alternative business practices.

Why are Scope 1 emissions important?

A transparent overview of your own Scope 1 emissions is not only a sign of responsible action, but also a fundamental requirement for compliance with environmental standards and laws, such as those defined by ISO 14064, the Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSRD) or the Greenhouse Gas Protocol.

Proper management of these emissions also helps companies to achieve their climate targets, minimize costs and risks and strengthen their market position in the context of a changing, environmentally conscious economy. This is because internal and external stakeholders are also increasingly demanding action from companies.

How are Scope 1 emissions measured?

Scope 1 emissions are usually measured in accordance with recognized standards such as the Greenhouse Gas Protocol or ISO 14064 and using a corresponding software solution. Such software tools use emission factors and conversion formulas to quantify the amount of CO₂ equivalent emitted based on the type and amount of fuel consumed.

The best measures to reduce Scope 1 emissions?

Reducing Scope 1 emissions is an essential step for companies to achieve their sustainability goals and make a positive contribution to climate protection. Here are the most effective measures to minimize direct emissions from own sources and operational activities:

  • Energy efficiency initiatives: Improve the energy efficiency of operating facilities and office buildings. This can be achieved by modernizing heating and cooling systems and insulating buildings.
  • Transition to renewable energy: Rely on renewable energy sources such as solar energy, wind energy or biomass to replace conventional fossil fuels and significantly reduce CO₂ emissions.
  • Convert company vehicles: Replace company cars with electric vehicles or hybrid models to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Process optimization: Optimize operational processes to minimize fuel consumption. For example, heat recovery systems or more efficient production processes can be used.
  • Training for employees: Train your employees in energy-efficient practices to raise awareness of energy consumption and emissions.
  • Regular monitoring and reporting: Implement a comprehensive emissions management system to accurately collect and analyze data on emissions. This promotes continuous improvement and helps to set and achieve targets.

In addition, investments can be made in CO₂ offsetting. Because while you are working on reduction, you can also invest in CO₂ compensation projects to offset your remaining emissions.

Software for measuring Scope 1 emissions

Specialized software solutions are available for recording, analysing and managing the scopes, which help to automate CO₂ accounting and implement the entire decarbonization strategy on a single platform. These tools also facilitate compliance with reporting standards such as the CSRD or ISO 14064.

Carbon accounting software enables companies to streamline and automate their carbon accounting, with comprehensive sustainability software allowing companies to carry out their entire decarbonization journey on a single platform. 

Planted supports companies with a holistic sustainability platform for carbon accounting, decarbonization and audit-proof ESG and CO₂ reporting. The calculation of the carbon footprint to record the scopes is intuitive within the software, is based on the GHG Protocol and is certified by TÜV Rheinland. With personal advisors, Planted also helps companies to reduce their internal emissions with the involvement of their employees.

Arrange your free, no-obligation consultation now and start your journey towards Net Zero.

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How-to: CO₂ balance sheet of companies