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What is scope 3 and what should be taken into account when calculating it?

Sep 19, 2022 | Anna Gaib |

What is scope 3?

Greenhouse Gas Protocol Corporate Standard (GHG Protocol Corporate Accounting and Reporting Standard) is the world’s most widely used standard for organizational carbon footprint calculation. The purpose of the standard is to guide and harmonize calculations. Standard-based calculation is important also to avoid greenwashing.

GHG Protocol Standard divides emissions into three different scopes. Scope 1 covers company’s direct emissions caused by its own operations, such as emissions from fuels used for energy production and its own vehicles. Scope 2 includes emissions from purchased energy, for example electricity and district heating. Scope 3 includes emissions from value chains and purchases, such as emissions caused by the purchase of raw materials, transportation, and product use phase.

Scope 3 is the one which raises most of the questions and causes difficulties for companies when calculating their carbon footprint, as calculating scope 3 emissions and finding the correct emission factors can be hard. Scope 3 often has a significant impact on company’s carbon footprint, so it is important to take it into account. Particularly companies operating in the commercial or industrial field have often great scope 3 emissions. That is why you can get an incorrect impression of the company’s emissions if scope 3 emissions are left out of the calculations.

Does scope 3 need to be included in carbon footprint calculating?

Against to a common misconception, the inclusion of scope 3 in the carbon footprint calculation is not voluntary. Accurate compliance with Greenhouse Gas Protocol Standard requires that all relevant emission sources are included in the calculations if reliable input data are available with reasonable work. So, if the emission source has anything else but minor effect on the calculation result, it must be included in the calculation.

What if scope 3 data is not available?

All the necessary input data is not always available when calculating scope 3 emissions and this can cause difficulties. Sometimes companies have to find out the most common production countries and transportation routes of raw materials or contact suppliers about the emission factors of their products and services. This causes extra work and only the most ambitious companies are ready to put effort to find out the emission sources. Especially if the data is not completely available, it is important to describe all related uncertainties and assumptions, and their possible influences in the results in the carbon footprint report.

Most important is to start

The first carbon footprint calculation is the most laborious, but the calculation gets easier year after year. The easiest way to start your first carbon footprint calculation is to outsource the calculation to an expert. A team with relevant experience can identifie the emission sources, select the emission factors, and instruct you to collect the correct data for the calculation.

If your company already has knowledge of carbon footprint calculation, the access to calculation tools and Finland’s most extensive emission factor database can speed up the calculation considerably. Since we already have examined the reliability of emission factors, you don’t need to worry about it.

Calculating scope 3 emissions may not be easy, but it is necessary if a company wants to comply with carbon footprint calculation standards and be involved in solving climate challenges. Often scope 3 calculation provides important information about the company’s greatest emission sources and once they are known, the change towards a lower level of emissions can begin.

What is

We offer standard-based carbon footprint calculators built on the platform for calculating the carbon footprints of both organizations and products/services. We also provide Finland's most comprehensive emissions database with up-to-date emission factors. We grant the Carbon Footprint Label for verified calculations.


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Contact us via the form or directly to our expert, and we can figure out together which calculator would work best for your organization.


Sari Siitonen

Founder, CEO


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