Graham Birkenhead, July 18 2023

How do I have an environmental impact? Let me count the ways

 Making use of the 3 carbon emission scopes to help you plan and demonstrate your ‘environmental’ values

Most businesses do not have ESG reporting requirements; but there is increasing societal expectation that businesses will do the ‘right thing’.  Considering the environmental aspect of ESG, as the impact of climate change becomes more felt and real to larger proportions of the population (rather than abstract and something people elsewhere experiences), then those pressures will only increase.  Any and every company can take some action; and the 3 GHG Emission Scopes* provide a great framework that any company can use to consider what steps it can take.   If you don't have to report it, you don't need to measure it (unless you want to); the important thing is to take action.

Here's a summary of the 3 scopes and the types of impactful activity that you can take: 

Scope 1: Direct Emissions.  Direct emissions are a direct result of your company’s processes: How efficiently do you operate? How much energy do you consume? How much waste do you create?

Ideas to impact your Scope 1 emissions:

Scope 2: Indirect Emissions from Purchased Electricity.   Indirect Emissions from Purchased Electricity is a consideration of the amount of emissions that were created during the production of the electrical energy you consume – did it come from a coal fired power station - or hydro, or solar or wind?

Ideas to impact your Scope 2 emissions:

Scope 3: Other Indirect Emissions.   Other Indirect Emissions will generally be the largest and most diverse set of emissions – this is essentially everything not covered in scopes 1 and 2. You will find them as you look up and down your value chain from the source of your raw materials to getting the product to your customers; it involves activities such as procurement, transportation, product use, and disposal.

Ideas to impact your Scope 3 emissions:

As you tackle your emissions, get your employees involved – they usually have loads of ideas of how to improve things and it will get their buy in, and probably greater commitment to the company too. You will probably realise that you are doing some of these things anyway – GREAT – keep going – and let your customers and the rest of your value chain know – lead by excellent example.  And, as larger companies that do have reporting requirements start looking to reduce their 3 scopes, especially their scope 3, and you are in their value chain, then they may just come calling.

What initiatives have you implemented, or will you implement to reduce your overall GHG emissions?


* The 3 scopes were created by the Greenhouse Gas Protocol as part of its Corporate Accounting Reporting Standard.  The standard aims to provide a global framework for measuring and managing 6 types of GHG emissions for all types of organisations and industries. It is intended to be used for regulatory compliance and reporting and to prevent “double-accounting” of emissions.  The concept can be used by any company that wants to make an impact on its environmental emissions whether they are direct or indirect.

Written by

Graham Birkenhead


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