How Much Emission is Scope 3? Unravelling the Numbers

Scope 3 emissions often overshadow direct emissions, but by how much? Join us as we decode the numbers, shedding light on the vast impact of indirect emissions and why they're central to any genuine sustainability strategy.

How Much Emission is Scope 3? Unravelling the Numbers
Photo by Alison Pang / Unsplash

Scope 3 emissions, often referred to as the "hidden giant" of corporate carbon footprints, encompass all indirect emissions that occur in a company's value chain. But just how significant are these emissions? Let's dive into the numbers and understand the magnitude of Scope 3 emissions.

The Bigger Picture:

  • While Scope 1 and 2 emissions cover direct emissions from owned or controlled sources and indirect emissions from the generation of purchased energy, respectively, Scope 3 casts a wider net. It includes emissions from activities like business travel, employee commuting, waste disposal, and, most notably, the production of purchased goods and services.
  • For many industries, especially those in the retail, food, and manufacturing sectors, Scope 3 emissions can account for over 80% of their total carbon footprint.

Comparative Analysis:

  • According to the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP), companies that actively track and manage Scope 3 emissions have a carbon footprint that's about four times larger than companies that only focus on Scope 1 and 2.
  • This highlights the sheer volume of emissions that can be hidden in a company's value chain.

The Supply Chain Factor:

  • A significant portion of Scope 3 emissions comes from the supply chain. For companies that produce goods, the raw materials phase can be the most carbon-intensive part of their product lifecycle.
  • For instance, in the tech industry, up to 75% of total emissions can come from the production of components and manufacturing.

Conclusion: Understanding the magnitude of Scope 3 emissions is crucial for any organization aiming for genuine sustainability. By addressing these often-overlooked emissions, companies can make a more significant impact in the fight against climate change.