What are Scope 4 emissions?

Scope 4 emissions, also known as "avoided emissions", add a fourth category to the traditional understanding of greenhouse gas emissions. The latest scope refers to the reduction of emissions outside the value chain or life cycle of a product. Scope 4 emphasizes how emissions can be saved through the use of a company's products or services. The term was coined by the World Resources Institute.

How does Scope 4 differ from Scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions?

While Scope 1 includes direct emissions from owned or controlled sources and Scope 2 considers indirect emissions from purchased energy, Scope 3 covers all other indirect emissions along the value chain. In contrast, Scope 4 refers to the emission reductions achieved through the use of a company's products or services by third parties. This category therefore covers the positive effects on the environment that go beyond a company's own operational boundaries and therefore represent a different category than the remaining scope emissions.

Examples of Scope 4 emissions

Scope 4 emissions include, for example, products or services that are advertised as saving energy or reducing emissions, such as a new cell phone. An event that takes place digitally with immediate effect to reduce emissions would also fall under Scope 4 emissions. Another example of Scope 4 is working from home. Employees who work remotely usually cause fewer emissions than employees who commute to the office or are on business trips. The emissions avoided by working remotely can therefore also be considered Scope 4 emissions.

Is Scope 4 mandatory?

Scope 4 is not yet mandatory. The existing standards for emissions reporting, such as the Greenhouse Gas Protocol, only cover Scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions. Nevertheless, companies can benefit from voluntary reporting, especially if they aim to reduce emissions, optimize their sustainability strategies and meet their climate protection targets.

Why are Scope 4 emissions important for companies?

Scope 4 offers an innovative perspective on measuring the positive environmental impact of companies by taking into account the emission reductions achieved through the use of their products or services. This category is particularly relevant for companies that are leaders in the development of sustainable technologies, products and services. Scope 4 records how companies contribute to the reduction of global greenhouse gas emissions beyond their direct and indirect emissions.

What are the advantages of Scope 4 emissions?

Scope 4 helps companies to achieve their environmental and sustainability goals, improves their brand image and promotes transparency. Customers receive important information for environmentally conscious decisions. Scope 4 emissions highlight avoided emissions, which arouses the interest of investors and encourages the development of low-carbon production methods.

How can companies calculate Scope 4 emissions?

Calculating Scope 4 emissions is challenging as they are not produced directly but are an estimate of avoided emissions. Compared to Scope 1, Scope 2 and Scope 3, capturing Scope 4 emissions requires additional effort, but is a valuable strategy for companies looking to improve their sustainability. Carbon accounting platforms like Planted's solution help your company to accurately capture and understand your emissions.