The beginning of the year is usually a busy time for many companies. Also, there is pressure to get emission calculations ready in time for inclusion in annual and sustainability reports.
Companies often base their carbon footprint calculations on the GHG Protocol, which provides the world’s most widely used standards to calculate greenhouse gas emissions. These standards refer to GHG inventory but the ”carbon footprint of a company” or ”corporate carbon footprint” are commonly used in communication.
GHG Protocol divides a company’s greenhouse gas emissions into three emission scopes (Scope 1, 2 and 3).
Scope 1 emissions are direct emissions from the company’s own operations, i.e. emissions typically caused by energy production and the use of vehicle fuels. These emissions are released into the atmosphere concretely from the company’s own smokestacks or exhaust pipes, or those controlled by the company. Scope 1 emissions can also be released into the atmosphere as a result of, for example, greenhouse gas leaks.
Scope 2 emissions are indirect emissions from energy procurement and arise from the purchase of electricity, district heating, district cooling or process steam. Almost all companies need electricity to operate, and scope 2 emissions are included in most emission calculations.
Scope 3 emissions are related to a company’s purchases and value chain. These emissions include emissions from the production and transportation of materials purchased by the company, as well as emissions from the use and disposal of products manufactured by the company. Scope 3 also includes emissions from business travel and waste generated in operations.
Under GHG Protocol standards, the calculation of emissions involves several different steps. The very first thing is to define the goal and scope of the calculation. The goal can be, for example, to increase the company’s personnel’s understanding of the emission sources relevant to their own operations, which helps to target emission reduction measures in the most effective way.
The goal and scope of the calculation is related to the inventory boundary of the calculation from the perspective of the organisation and operations. The next step is to identify the emission sources related to the activities included before collecting the activity data of different emission sources, such as the use of materials and energy, and the emission factors related to them. This data is used to make the emission calculation, which can be done, for example, using the emission calculation tools on the OpenCO2.net platform.
When the calculation results are clear, the inventory quality is assessed, for example by a sensitivity analysis. In addition, the emission reductions achieved compared to earlier years can be calculated if the company’s carbon footprint has been calculated previously.
The results are disclosed in the company’s GHG report, which also describes the bases of the calculation and discusses the uncertainties related to the calculation. The calculation results and the report can be verified by a third party, which increases the reliability of the calculation.
For the past few years, large listed and non-profit companies have had to report on the material environmental impacts related to their operations as a part of the non-financial information. Greenhouse gas emissions have often been among the material topics.
From 2024, these companies must prepare a sustainability report in accordance with the CSRD (Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive), which includes comprehensive reporting of greenhouse gas emissions. From 2025, the same requirement also applies to large companies that have not had an obligation to report non-financial information. From the beginning of 2026, the obligation will further extend to listed SMEs.
When the reporting requirements of large companies become stricter, it will inevitably also affect SMEs through their supply chains. Large companies ask smaller companies for emission data more often than before, and if the company is not clear about its emissions, it can even prevent procurement.
So now, regardless of company size, it’s high time to prepare for reporting your company’s greenhouse gas emissions and to determine your company’s carbon footprint.
OpenCO2.net offers companies tools and help to determine the carbon footprints of both companies and products. Our extensive emissions database offers companies up-to-date emissions factors, which facilitates and speeds up emission calculation.
Contact us via the form or directly to our expert, and we can figure out together which OpenCO2.net calculator would work best for your organization.
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