Carbon footprint calculation and reduction: it is time to act for climate

carbon footprint

Carbon footprint calculation and reduction: it is time to act for climate. Source:

Global warming is wreaking havoc all over the globe, leaving a trail of destruction such as rising sea levels on coastal ecosystems, threats to biodiversity, changes in rainfall patterns, and extensive draughts. Because these problems, plus a lot more, are caused by the excessive release of harmful GHG gasses, we have no other option other than cutting them down, and this has to start with carbon footprint calculation.

If you are new to greenhouse (GHG) emission calculations, this post will provide the main steps to follow. Furthermore, it will list suggestions for carbon reduction.

What is Carbon Footprint?

Before looking at the process of calculating the carbon footprint, let’s start by answering the big question, “what is it?” Carbon footprint is the measure of your company’s contribution to climate change. It can also be calculated at the individual, city, or country level, but we are going to focus on carbon footprint calculation for a business/company in this post.

There are two main types of carbon footprints for companies: product footprint and organizational carbon footprint.

The product carbon footprint is the emissions that are associated with a specific product only. However, this is a narrow approach and is not likely to reflect the holistic situation of your organization. To get the best picture of the company’s GHG emissions, it is advisable to go for an organizational footprint. This is the sum of all greenhouse gasses released by your company, both directly and indirectly.

Another important thing when looking at the carbon footprint definition is the classification. Carbon emissions are grouped into three: Scope 1, Scope 2, and Scope 3.

Scope one emissions are the greenhouse gasses from internal operations of a company, such as product development in the manufacturing floor. Scope two emissions arise from purchased steam, electricity, and/or heat. The last category is Scope 3 emissions, which come from external sources in your supply chain. When calculating carbon footprint, all the emissions must be accurately factored in.

Carbon Footprint Calculation: A Step-By-Step Guide

Here are the six main steps for correct carbon footprint calculations.

1. Determine the Scope

This can also be referred to as setting boundaries. The bare minimum that you should factor in are the scope 1 and scope 2 emissions. When it comes to scope 3 emissions, there is some flexibility. For example, it can be pretty challenging to determine the quantity of emissions released from a landfill as a result of your waste.

2. Collect Data

After determining the scope and identifying the activities of interest, it is time to get down to gathering data. Here, you should select and follow a specific framework, such as the Task-force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD) and the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP).

3. Calculate Your Emissions

Once you gather data about your GHG emissions, it is time to get down to the calculations. There are a number of methods that can be applied to calculate carbon footprint, but the commonest is:

Carbon Footprint = Activity Data X Emission Factor

(Where activity data is the parameter that defines the activity generating GHG emissions, and the Emission factor is the quantity of GHG gasses from each activity.) 

To make the calculations easier, you might want to use different calculators, such as the UN Carbon Footprint Calculator and EPA Carbon Footprint Calculator.

4. Identify Improvements and Set Targets

Once you have calculated your carbon footprint, it marks the beginning of a long journey to cut down emissions. Here, you need to identify and prioritize measures that can help to cut down the emissions. For example, you might want to prioritize a shift to renewable energy from fossil fuels. Other efforts for cutting down emissions might include:

  • Shifting to energy-efficient lamps.
  • Better equipment maintenance.
  • Turning off lights, computers, and machines when not in use.
  • Training staff on GHG emission reduction.

Then, set targets for cutting down emissions. A good reduction target might be something such as 3-5% per year. However, you can target a bigger percentage until the company hits zero emissions.

5. Report Your Progress

The efforts you make for carbon footprint reduction and the result should be captured in the company’s ESG report and communicated both internally and externally. To make the report complete, consider including all other efforts adopted to improve sustainability.

This post has outlined the main steps that you should follow for carbon footprint calculation. To make the process even more effective, make sure to have the right sustainability management software because it makes it possible to track results and generate top-quality reports. Visit now for all expert assistance and professional assistance.


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