What are scope 3 emissions, and what exactly must I do and include to measure them?

Scope 3 what is it, and when to include

Scope 3 emissions are indirect emissions that occur in a company's corporate value chain. Unlike scope 1 and scope 2 emissions, scope 3 emissions are outside the operational control of the organisation. Common examples include: business travel of employees (flights, train, and vehicles not owned by the company), purchase of raw goods, and employee commuting. For further explanation on scopes, read this blog.

Scope 3 emissions need to be included in your emissions boundary if you wish to be carbon neutral certified or achieve net zero emissions. The Pathzero carbon management platform has guidelines to ensure that all relevant scope 3 emission sources are included in an inventory. This is completed through the following relevance test. If two of the following five criteria are met by your organisation, this emission source must be included in your emissions boundary.

  1. The emissions from a particular source are likely to be large relative to the organisation’s electricity, stationary energy and fuel emissions.

  2. The emissions from a particular source contribute to the organisation’s greenhouse gas risk exposure.

  3. The emissions from a particular source are deemed relevant by key stakeholders.

  4. The responsible organisation could influence emissions reduction from a particular source.

  5. The emissions are from outsourced activities previously undertaken within the organisation’s boundary, or from outsourced activities typically undertaken within the boundary for comparable organisations.

You may notice that some scope 3 emission sources may not always apply on an annual basis. For example, if your organisation has purchased IT equipment in the previous financial year and no new equipment was purchased in this financial year, your emissions for this source would be zero. However, it is always best to include any emission sources that are relevant, even if these may not be quantified in the current reporting year.