The Greenhouse Gas Protocol

Scope 1 emissions

Scope 1 emissions are vital in measuring an organization’s carbon footprint, and reducing these emissions is becoming an essential part of corporate sustainability strategies and responsibilities. Before your organization can make any headway in achieving your net zero or carbon-neutral goals, it is imperative to measure the relevant scopes - such as scope 1.

What are scope 1 emissions?

Scope 1 emissions are greenhouse gas emissions that come directly from a company's own activities, such as fuel combustion and industrial processes. Scope 1 emissions are direct emissions,  whereas scope 2  and scope 3 are indirect.  

In 2001, the Greenhouse Gas Protocol (GHGP) was created by the World Resources Institute (WRI) and the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) to facilitate emissions measurement and assist organizations in identifying ways to reduce emissions. 

The Greenhouse Gas Protocol provides a globally recognised framework for organizations to measure and manage their GHG emissions, with the aim of reducing their carbon footprint and contributing to global efforts to mitigate climate change. 

By establishing a common methodology for measuring GHG emissions, it enables organizations to identify areas of their operations where emissions are high and to develop strategies to reduce those emissions. It also helps organizations to track their progress over time and compare their emissions with those of similar organizations, which can be an important tool for benchmarking and setting targets.

Learn more about the Greenhouse Gas Protocol.

What is included in scope 1 emissions?

Scope 1 emissions accounting refers to the process of measuring and reporting an organization's direct greenhouse gas emissions from sources that are owned or controlled by the organization. The following are typically included in scope 1 emissions accounting:

  1. Combustion of fossil fuels: Burning fossil fuels such as coal, oil, and gas for heating, electricity generation, or transportation is a significant contributor to scope 1 emissions. This is particularly relevant for industries such as manufacturing, transportation, and energy production. This does not include purchased electricity, heat or steam, which falls into scope 2.
  2. Chemical reactions: Some industrial processes involve chemical reactions that release carbon dioxide as a byproduct. For example, cement production and lime manufacturing can result in significant scope 1 emissions.
  3. Land-use changes: Changes in land use such as deforestation, land degradation, or conversion of natural ecosystems can also result in scope 1 emissions. This is particularly relevant for industries such as agriculture, forestry, and mining.
  4. Industrial processes: Certain industrial processes such as fermentation, decomposition, and waste treatment can result in emissions of methane and other greenhouse gasses.

Why it’s important to track scope 1 carbon emissions

Increasingly, organizations are under pressure to ensure that they’re appropriately accounting for their carbon emissions output, and face ever more stringent measures imposed on them by regulations and governments - meaning it’s becoming increasingly difficult to avoid.  Alongside compliance, there are several other reasons why businesses should be actively carbon accounting:

Regulatory compliance

Many countries and jurisdictions have regulations that require companies to report on their greenhouse gas emissions, including Scope 1 emissions. By accurately reporting on their Scope 1 emissions, companies can ensure compliance with these regulations and avoid potential legal or financial penalties.

Stakeholder expectations

Investors, customers, and other stakeholders are increasingly interested in the sustainability practices of the companies they work with or invest in. By reporting on their Scope 1 emissions and demonstrating a commitment to reducing their environmental impact, companies can meet stakeholder expectations and build trust with their stakeholders.

Cost savings

If companies are able to account for their scope 1 emissions, they’ll be able to identify opportunities for reducing their energy consumption, and therefore their overall costs in the long term.

Competitive advantage

Consumers and investors are becoming increasingly aware of the environmental impact that their purchasing and investment decisions have. By demonstrating commitment to sustainability and reporting on scope 1 emissions, companies can differentiate themselves from their competitors and appeal to customers and investors who are seeking sustainable products and services. 

Minimum helps organizations measure, report and reduce their emissions across scope 1, 2 and 3. Speak to one of our experts to learn more.

FAQs about scope 1 emissions

What’s the difference between scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions?

Scope 1, Scope 2, and Scope 3 emissions are three different categories of greenhouse gas emissions used to measure and manage an organization's carbon footprint. Here's a brief overview of each:

  • Scope 1 emissions: These are direct emissions from sources that are owned or controlled by an organization. Scope 1 emissions typically include emissions from fuel combustion, industrial processes, and agriculture.
  • Scope 2 emissions: These are indirect emissions from the generation of purchased electricity, heat, or steam consumed by the organization. Scope 2 emissions are produced by a third party, such as a utility company, but are associated with the organization's activities.
  • Scope 3 emissions: These are all other indirect emissions that occur in the value chain of an organization, including emissions from the production of purchased goods and services, employee commuting, waste disposal, and business travel.

The key difference between the three scopes is the level of control that an organization has over the emissions. 

Is business travel scope 1 or 3?

Business travel is typically considered a Scope 3 emission, as it is an indirect emission that results from activities outside of an organization's owned or controlled sources. Scope 3 emissions are defined as all other indirect greenhouse gas emissions that occur in the value chain of an organization, including emissions from the production of purchased goods and services, employee commuting, waste disposal, and business travel.