What is a carbon footprint?

TCR_web_image_inserts_carbonneutralA carbon footprint is a calculation of the total greenhouse gas emissions caused directly and indirectly by an organisation or company. This is typically calculated and reported over a period of 12 months.

What often makes a carbon footprint complicated is defining the boundaries of the audit. The Greenhouse Gas Protocol provides the guidance to assist in determining both the organisational and operational boundaries of the carbon footprint.

The organisational boundary of a carbon footprint is determined through one of two approaches, namely the equity or control approaches.

Once the organisational boundary is determined, the operational boundary defines which operations and sources of emissions will be included in the carbon footprint.  If this sounds complicated, our team of experts at The Carbon Report can assist as our solution is specifically geared to demystify this complexity.

The next step in doing a carbon footprint involves sourcing business activity information such as electricity consumption or fuel purchases.  This business data is converted into carbon dioxide equivalents using factors that are relevant to the organisation and geography concerned.

Greenhouse gas emissions (often referred to as carbon emissions) are categorised as direct and indirect and accordingly grouped into Scopes for accounting and reporting purposes.

Direct emissions of a carbon footprint

Greenhouse gas emissions are ‘direct’ when they are generated from company owned or controlled sources and activities. These are called Scope 1 emissions and are accounted for as such.  Scope 1 emissions largely include fuel burned in company owned assets and air conditioning and refrigerant use.

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Indirect emissions of a carbon footprint

‘Indirect’ greenhouse gas emissions sources are those emissions related to the company’s activities, but that are emitted from sources owned or controlled by a third party. These are categorised as either Scope 2 emissions for purchased electricity or as Scope 3 for other non-owned or controlled emissions e.g. air travel or paper use.

A carbon footprint is an important step in embarking upon a low carbon strategy, as it acts as a baseline from which to measure the success of carbon and energy reduction initiatives.

The Carbon Report consultants have the tools and expertise to help you build and report your company’s carbon footprint.  Call us on +27 (0)21 403 6411 or drop us an email on info@thecarbonreport.com.

More information on carbon footprints can be found here.

 

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