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Explained: What are scope 3 emissions

When doing carbon accounting, it is incredibly important to understand the differences between scope 1, scope 2 and scope 3 emissions. This blog post will help you understand what scope 3 emissions are. Learn more about scope 1 emissions here and scope 2 emissions here.

What are scope 3 emissions?

Scope 3 emissions are the biggest contributor to total company emissions for a number of industries, yet simultaneously, they are the hardest to track and calculate. Why is that?

Firstly, it is important to understand how broad the category is. Scope 3 emissions are all indirect emissions not included in scope 2, which means that they include all emissions from upstream and downstream activities.

- Upstream activities are things like business travel, employee commuting, waste disposal, emissions generated from purchased goods and services, as well as transportation and distribution of the company’s products by its suppliers.

- Downstream activities on the other hand are factors like a company’s investments, franchises, leased assets or the use and disposal of sold products by its consumers (think about oil companies — use of the oil they sell is a great contributor to their scope 3 emissions).

There are hundreds of factors that must be taken into account when trying to calculate a company’s scope 3 emissions. This is why many companies don’t track them, which results in under-reporting on a massive scale.

Different businesses also use a range of different assumptions, which means that it is difficult to compare the scope 3 emissions between companies.

At Connect Earth, we use machine learning to standardise the scope 3 emissions of companies to close this information gap for consumers, so that they can make truly informed choices about their purchases. 🌳

To learn more about what we do, check our website.