Carbon Footprint Calculation: Why You Should Get it Right

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Are you an entrepreneur, manager, or investor and have been wondering how to operate more sustainably? One of the targets should be cutting down your carbon footprint, and it should start with determining the current emission levels.

With time, calculating carbon footprint has moved from being a niche concept to an important regulatory requirement. As countries, authorities and stakeholders, such as the UK, the EU, and Hong Kong Stock Exchange (HKEX), set targets to achieve carbon neutral status or reduce greenhouse gasses (GHG) emissions, it is paramount to understand the right carbon footprint calculation. Then, craft strategies for reducing the footprint.

Here is a demonstration of how you should go about carbon footprint calculation.

Carbon Footprint Calculation Why You Should Get it Right

What is Carbon Footprint? 

Before you can set off calculating your carbon footprint, the first thing is determine what it is. This is the total amount of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions that a person, company, city, country, or product produces. Greenhouse gasses are the emissions released into the atmosphere that causes the greenhouse effect and, ultimately, global warming and climate change.

Human activities have increased global warming in the atmosphere rapidly since the industrial revolution, resulting in the current fast rise in global temperatures. Over the last century, the earth has experienced a rise of temperatures by about 1.1 degrees Celsius. Now, the Paris Climate Agreement has called for the countries to try and limit the global temperature rise to 2 degrees Celsius to reduce the impacts of global warming.

This is the primary reason why you need to cut down your company’s greenhouse gas emissions, but it has to start with carbon footprint calculation.

Carbon Footprint Calculation Strategy for Your Company

Here are the main steps to follow to correctly calculate your company’s carbon footprint:

Define the Boundary for Your Carbon Footprint 

This is important because it helps you to set constraints for the assessment period. The main point of calculating carbon footprint is to be able to reduce it, and setting the boundaries will come in handy in achieving the goal. So, the boundaries should include:

  • Operational control (elements and areas your company has operational control over).
  • Financial control (covers elements that your business manages).
  • Equity control (these are all the elements that your firm owns).

Establish the Emissions that Will Be Included 

Greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions are categorized into three, scope 1, scope 2, and scope 3. Emissions in scope 1 mainly result from direct operations of the company (areas that you have total control over). For example, on-site machinery that burns fossil fuel might be releasing scope-one GHG emissions. Emissions from vehicles and boilers also fall into this category.

Scope 2 emissions are mainly related to the purchase of energy. This means that you have not produced these emissions, but they are indirectly associated with your operations. Electricity, heat, and steam sourced from other companies fall into this group. Your organization is indirectly responsible for these emissions.

Scope 3 emissions result from indirect actions, such as wastes released from the company operations.

Gather Data and Calculate Your Carbon Footprint

After determining the emissions to include, determine the preferred period of calculation. In most cases, this is one year. Then, gather data from the emission sources accurately for calculation. Most regulations, especially those tied to ESG reporting, require that all data on sustainability should be accurate and verifiable. Some good tips for enhancing data accuracy include:

  • Annualizing partial data.
  • Using proxies where primary data is missing.
  • Intelligent estimation.

Armed with the relevant data, it is time to get the carbon footprint calculation. The best way to get it right is using an appropriate carbon footprint calculator or conversion factors. Make sure to use a calculator from a reputable organization, such as the UN Carbon Footprint Calculator from the United Nations.

One of the most notable things about carbon footprint calculation is that it all requires the correct gathering and analysis of data. If you get it wrong with data collection, there is a risk of your ESG report getting labeled greenwashed. Therefore, make sure to identify the best sustainability management software from and use it in your carbon footprint calculation and ESG reporting.

Carbon Footprint Calculation

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