Reaching a net-zero business status is on the sustainability agenda of many companies. It means adding no more greenhouse gases to the Earth’s atmosphere than the amount you’re reducing. In this article, we’ll show you how to track greenhouse gas emissions
If this goal is hard to reach, companies strive to at least be carbon-neutral. In that case, they offset the carbon emissions they produce, e.g. by planting trees or supporting renewable energy programmes. Thus, any socially responsible business needs to know how to track its greenhouse gas emissions. Regional authorities and some individuals may be interested too. PaySpace Magazine will help you with that.
Why is that important?
Carbon accounting is a relatively new phenomenon. However, it will secure a top place on corporate agendas in the near future. Virtually every large global company now issues sustainability reports and sets eco-related goals. More than 2,000 companies set a science-based carbon target. About one-third of Europe’s largest public companies have pledged to reach net-zero by 2050.
Limiting carbon emissions can help prevent the disastrous impact of climate change. Extreme weather, respiratory diseases, food supply disruptions, and increased wildfires are some effects of climate change caused by greenhouse gases.
Sustainable targets are “science-based” if they should keep global temperature increase below +2°C (3.6°F) compared to pre-industrial temperatures. Therefore, measuring the scope of corporate greenhouse gas emissions and their reduction is crucial.
Formula & data
There are several methods of calculating the carbon footprint of a business. The process involves recording the amount of energy used in various activities. The main formula multiplies the activity/consumption data by its corresponding emission factor. At the same time, every industry-specific agency dealing with ecological impact may have its own rules and formulas. The well-known guidelines for calculating emissions are the DEFRA guidelines and the GHG Protocol.
Overall, greenhouse gas emissions are divided into Scope 1, 2 and 3 types.
- Scope 1 – direct greenhouse (GHG) emissions that occur from sources controlled or owned by an organisation (e.g., emissions associated with fuel combustion in boilers, furnaces, vehicles)
- Scope 2 – indirect GHG emissions associated with the purchase of electricity, steam, heat, or cooling
- Scope 3 – all other indirect emissions that occur in a company’s value chain (purchased goods or services, business travel, commuting, investments, waste disposal, leased assets, etc)
Correct calculations take into account relevant conversion factors. All types of emissions (from electricity, fossil fuels, waste disposal, etc) should be converted into reporting measurement units. Doing it manually is possible but challenging. Moreover, it can be hard to ensure that data is exact. For example, it is problematic to quantify energy use when you share a building/office with another company. Besides, the guidelines of responsible authorities you report to may change.
Software that helps track greenhouse gas emissions
Tracking greenhouse emissions is easy with dedicated software. Some tech startups like PlanA or Planetly are helping businesses automate and manage ESG reporting. Projects like these develop single platforms for measuring, monitoring and reducing emissions. After the necessary data input, the platform may calculate one’s impact and provide an automated decarbonisation plan. Thanks to intelligent analytic features, companies may compare their offset with their competitors’ results.
e-Bench is another tool for greenhouse gas (GHG) or carbon emission tracking and reporting. This carbon management software tracks and reports on GHG emissions under ISO 14064, which is the international standard for emissions reporting.
Personal apps like Klima are designed for individuals to offset their carbon footprint. The apps can examine customers’ behaviour and shopping habits and give insights into possible changes. For example, Klima identifies diet change as one of the cardinal steps they can take to reduce their emissions footprint. Substituting cars with bikes or electric vehicles, as well as buying fewer fast-fashion items, also matters.
Monitoring technologies and tools
Local authorities need to report their greenhouse gas emission levels too. The indirect way to measure this date is by calculating the number of vehicle miles travelled within the city. However, modern technologies measure emissions directly, observing the atmosphere from towers, aircraft and satellites. Combining economic data with atmospheric observations gives more precise results. Besides, high tech makes it possible to attribute emissions to specific sources such as individual neighbourhoods, traffic corridors, or landfills, and to observe how those emissions change over daily and seasonal cycles.
So how to track greenhouse gas emissions? Synspec, Picarro, Advanced Energy and other leading brands produce greenhouse gas monitoring equipment for environmental agencies and specialists.
Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Protocol has a few online tools enabling companies to develop comprehensive and reliable inventories of their GHG emissions.
- Cross-sector tools apply to many industries and businesses. The GHG Emissions Calculation Tool is a free, Excel-based tool that is currently available as a beta version.
- Country-specific tools are customised for particular developing countries.
- Sector-specific tools are designed for the specific sector or industry, though they may apply to other situations.
- Tools for countries and cities help local authorities track progress toward their climate goals.