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Scope Emission Jargon

Understanding emission scope jargon

scope emission jargon

What does all this emission scope jargon actually mean?

You’ve probably all seen the news about emissions reporting and breathed a sigh of relief if your company doesn’t need to comply. Nonetheless, we know some of you are wondering what the scope jargon actually means?

Why is it all so important to everyone?

Carbon emissions are responsible for 81% of overall GHG emissions and businesses are responsible for the vast majority of them. The rest of GHG emissions are methane (10%), nitrous oxide (7%) and fluorinated gases (3%). As more and more businesses will be required to report their emissions over the coming years, we thought we’d put together a list of the most common words and phrases.

Emission scopes

There are 3 main scopes (some say 4 scopes, but we’ll get to that later).

Scope 1

Described as direct emissions, this covers emissions from company owned and control resources, buildings and non-electric company vehicles. These can be broken down into 4 categories:

Stationary emissions

Such as fuels, heating or cooling services.

Mobile emissions

Such as vehicles owned or controlled by the enterprise, so cars, vans and lorries. Electric vehicles will come under Scope 2 as that’s indirect emissions.

Fugitive emissions

Leaks of GHG from things such as refrigeration and air conditioning units.

Process emissions

Released during work related processes so pretty much any process that creates fumes during manufacturing.

Scope 2

Described as indirect emissions from the generation of energy purchased from utility providers. So, GHG emissions relating to the use of purchased electricity, for use within the enterprise, including for heat and cooling.

Scope 3

Scope 3 is usually when people get worried as there are 15 different categories within the GHG protocol (at the moment, most reporting is based on only 2 of them though). It is sometimes classified as ‘not owned – indirect emissons’, basically this means emissions that aren’t owned by the Enterprise but aren’t included in Scope 2.

The 15 categories are split into 8 Upstream and 7 Downstream activities

Over the next few weeks, we’ll go through different Scope 3 subcategories to give more in-depth information in order to help businesses understand what they are required to report on. In the meantime, this useful graphic from ghgprotocol.org helps to explain it better.

Scope 4

This isn’t actually a reporting requirement, but could still be a useful one to consider. It’s a new term that was created by the World Resources Institute and it refers to emission reductions or ‘avoided emissions’. For example, if you change your company vehicles to a new type of tyre that reduces emissions, that should be reported. Other examples are: adding solar panels to reduce usage from the national grid and moving meetings from face-to-face to virtual.

Scope 4 is  a useful section to report to shareholder, board directors and government, to show that you’re taking active steps to reduce emissions, by utilizing new products and services and ways of running the business.

Think of Scope 4 as a way to communicate to everyone that you’re taking active steps to reduce emissions. These steps are sometimes a quick way to reduce emissions, so it’s pretty much a win-win situation.

Still confused? There is an alternative. At eco-shaper, we keep tabs on everything around legislation and reporting. eco-shaper can help you with your reporting needs, so you can free yourself of the feeling of overwhelm. Why not visit eco-shaper.com and see if we can be helpful to you?

Be a net-zero hero

At eco-shaper, we drive action on climate change and streamline carbon footprinting. For example, we can help calculate emissions across the entire ecosystem that companies work across and produce automated reporting based on outcomes. Contact us to be part of our research group on

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