Calculating your carbon footprint (or Carbon Baseline) involves measuring emissions from various sources (Scopes 1, 2 and 3).

Firstly, what does each Scope mean?

Scope 1:

These are direct emissions from sources owned or controlled by you. They typically include:

    • Combustion Emissions: Emissions used on-site to power or run your organisation (e.g. boilers, furnaces, vehicles).
    • Process Emissions: Emissions from industrial processes or chemical reactions within the organisation.

For example, if your company owns a fleet of delivery vehicles and has a natural gas heating system in its office building, the emissions from the vehicle fleet and the natural gas combustion would fall under Scope 1 emissions. Or if making your products results in additional emissions being released into the atmosphere. 

Scope 2:

These emissions occur outside your organisation’s control but result from its operation (e.g. the energy it uses). 

    • Location-Based Emissions: These are emissions associated with the average grid emissions factor in the area where the organisation operates.
    • Market-Based Emissions: These are emissions associated with the specific energy sources and providers chosen by the organisation.

For example, if your organisation purchases electricity from a utility company, the emissions associated with generating that electricity would be Scope 2 emissions. If your utility company uses a mix of fossil and renewable energy sources, the emissions would depend on that mix.

Scope 3:

These are all other indirect emissions that occur due to your organisation’s activities but are not directly owned or controlled by the organisation. Scope 3 emissions are often the most extensive and challenging to quantify, as they encompass a wide range of sources, including:

    • Supply Chain Emissions: Emissions related to the production, transportation, and disposal of goods and services used by your organisation.
    • Employee Commuting: Emissions from employee travel to and from work.
    • Business Travel: Emissions from travel related to business operations, such as flights, rental cars, and hotel stays.
    • Product Use: Emissions resulting from the use of the organisation’s products or services by customers.

Measuring and managing Scope 3 emissions can be complex, often requiring collaboration with suppliers, customers, and other external stakeholders. But remember that their scope 1 and 2 is your scope 3 – talk to your stakeholders. 

Organisations aim to account for all three scopes to provide a comprehensive view of their greenhouse gas emissions and identify opportunities for emissions reduction and sustainability efforts. By categorising emissions in this way, businesses can develop more targeted and effective strategies for carbon reduction.

Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you capture your carbon baseline across each scope:

Scope 1 Baseline:

  • Identify Emission Sources: List all the direct emission sources that your organisation owns or controls. This includes combustion emissions from on-site operations and process emissions.
  • Data Collection: Gather historical data on energy consumption, fuel use, and other relevant emissions sources. You may need utility bills, fuel consumption records, or emissions data from equipment. 

Scope 2 Baseline:

  • Identify Energy Sources: Determine the sources of purchased or acquired electricity, heat, or steam your organisation uses. Identify whether you are using a market-based or location-based approach for calculating Scope 2 emissions.
  • Data Collection: Obtain historical data on energy consumption from utility bills or other relevant sources.

Scope 3 Baseline:

  • Categories Emission Sources: Identify and categorise the various sources of Scope 3 emissions relevant to your organisation, such as supply chain emissions, employee commuting, business travel, and product use emissions.
  • Data Collection: Reach out to suppliers, employees, and other relevant stakeholders to gather data on emissions sources. This may involve surveys, questionnaires, or data-sharing agreements.


Next Steps

Document and Verify: Document your Scope 1, 2 and 3 baseline and ongoing emissions data by downloading and populating the Government’s Carbon Reduction Plan Template. Consider a third-party provider to audit and verify your data and plans, such as The Carbon Trust or CDP.


Capturing a carbon baseline is a complex process that often requires the involvement of various departments within your organisation and, in the case of Scope 3, collaboration with external partners. Once you have established the baseline for each scope, you can use this data as a reference point to set reduction targets, implement carbon reduction strategies, and monitor progress over time. It’s essential to maintain accurate and consistent data collection and documentation practices for ongoing sustainability efforts.

Additionally, sharing your carbon footprint data with stakeholders, customers, and regulatory bodies can demonstrate your commitment to sustainability and transparency.

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