The climate is changing around us. And the conversation around it is getting louder. The need for sustainable solutions and cooperation from all walks of life is certain. But for businesses, playing our part isn’t always straightforward. Our objective is clear but the pathway often isn’t. It’s not as simple as turning off a light or two. But with the right help, reducing your emissions can be easier than you think.
Let’s start simple. Before you can reduce your emissions, you have to know what you’re already emitting. This is an assessment called an emissions inventory. An emissions inventory measures the total greenhouse gases emitted by your business and where those gases come from. It can help highlight your highest emission sources and areas that can easily be reduced. Simply speaking, it’s a dataset that’ll help you set targets and track your progress.
Now accurately calculating your emissions inventory should be left up to the experts, but there are two important things that’ll help you understand your results.
Number one – There are 7 greenhouse gases that will be considered. But, not all greenhouse gases are equal. Some have a greater impact on our climate than others. So, to make reporting and discussion easy, each gas is reported in tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (which is why it’s often called carbon emissions or a carbon footprint).
Number two – Businesses emit greenhouse gases in three ways, categorised and known in the industry as ‘scopes’.
- Scope One is direct emissions from company owned or controlled sources. Think your company car or the natural gas used to heat your buildings.
- Scope Two is indirect emissions from purchased electricity, steam, heating or cooling (or more simply, the emissions your energy providers release). And
- Scope Three is indirect emissions from your supply chain, including all upstream and downstream sources. So, your emissions inventory is not just the greenhouse gases you’re releasing into the atmosphere, but your energy provider and supply chain emissions as well.
Once you have your baseline inventory, you can start looking into the many ways to begin reducing your emissions. Then, when your inventory is completed again in 12 months time, you may be a few steps closer to your climate targets. Understanding your emissions is the first step on your journey to decarbonisation.