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What is a Carbon Footprint?

What is a Carbon Footprint or Carbon Account?

A carbon footprint or carbon account is the measurement of all greenhouse gas emissions, commonly referred to as carbon emissions, that your organisation emits throughout its value chain over a specified period of time. Generally, carbon footprints are measured over the period of one year. Emissions are measured in tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent or tCO2e and can be categorised into three scopes.

The emission scopes are defined by the Greenhouse Gas Protocol (GHG) Corporate Standard as follows:

  • Scope 1 – direct emissions that occur from owned or controlled sources by an organisation. This can include: company owned vehicles, on-site energy consumption, and refrigerants.
  • Scope 2 – indirect emissions from the generation of purchased electricity, steam, heating, or cooling.
  • Scope 3 – indirect emissions that occur within the organisation’s value chain including all upstream and downstream sources. This can include: staff travel, professional services, and purchase of goods and services.

Generally, Scope 3 emissions account for over 80% of an organisation’s footprint. Scope 3 emissions are the hardest to reduce as they are outside of an organisation’s direct control. However, obtaining an understanding of key emission sources across all three scopes can support the development of robust emission reduction strategies.

Why Should You Measure Your Carbon Footprint

Measuring your carbon footprint is a great first step for organisations who are keen to start their sustainability journey. A carbon account can identify top emission sources and areas where emission reductions can be implemented. As your organisation continues on its journey, progress can also easily be tracked against your first carbon inventory, also known as a base year inventory.

A carbon footprint can further inform future decision making by understanding key areas of emissions and impacts throughout your value chain. By understanding your top emission sources, you can work to implement climate technology solutions to reduce your Scope 1 and 2 emissions. This provides organisations with the double benefit of reducing emissions from top sources as well as reducing energy consumption and associated costs.

Further, targeted policy implementation and behavioural changes can support emission reductions within your value chain across Scope 3 emission sources. Organisations can exert influence across their value chains and choose to prefer service providers who align with their own sustainability goals. By understanding its emissions inventory an organisation can actively work to reduce emissions as much as possible.

What Comes Next?

After an organisation has measured its emissions inventory there are a few options for what can be done next. A common next step includes obtaining Carbon Neutral Certification through Climate Active. In order to become carbon neutral, organisations must purchase and retire carbon credits in an amount equivalent to the total emissions measured for the reporting period.

Organisations may choose to go even further by setting emission reduction targets, developing strategies to reduce emissions, and working towards eventually obtaining net zero emissions. Organisations around Australia are stepping up and setting ambitious emission reduction targets. In order to avoid further climate change impacts, organisations must continue to take the lead and work towards decarbonising the economy going forward.

How Ecovantage Can Help?

Ecovantage is an industry leader in climate solutions and supports organisations on their journey to carbon neutrality and net zero. Our Decarbonisation Unit can provide the expertise required to measure your greenhouse gas emissions, set reduction targets, acquire the right offsets, and develop strategies to actively decarbonise emissions.

Contact customerservice@ecovantage.com.au to get in touch with our Decarbonisation Specialists.

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