What is Carbon Accounting? (Scopes and Methods)

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Carbon Accounting

No matter what we do, it seems like carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere keep increasing. But what if we could track and account for all of the CO2 that’s being emitted? That’s where carbon accounting comes in.

By understanding where our emissions are coming from, we can start to figure out ways to reduce them. It can be done through individual or organizational efforts, and several software programs make the process easy.  

This blog post covers the important concept of carbon accounting, including ECA, scope, and methods. Let us get started.

What is Carbon accounting?

The term “carbon accounting” refers to the activities associated with measuring, monitoring, and reporting an organization’s greenhouse gas(GHG) emissions.

Importance

This is important for businesses and organizations because it provides a way to track their progress in reducing emissions and helps ensure that they are taking action to mitigate their impact on climate change.

Details

Emissions from various sources (e.g., transportation, power generation, manufacturing) are quantified and tracked over time. Reductions in emissions can be determined by comparing this data with estimates of carbon uptake by forests and other ecosystems. 

This data can be utilized to develop mitigation strategies that reduce greenhouse gas emissions and help stabilize the Earth’s climate.

Carbon footprint calculators, national inventories, and business environment reports are examples of carbon accounting products.

Carbon Accounting Standards

Some organizations like World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD), World Resources Institute (WRI), Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), GHG protocol, and the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) provide guidelines for national greenhouse gas(GHG) inventories.

Some general guidelines for greenhouse gas emissions provided by ISO are 

  • Organizational greenhouse gas emissions (ISO 14064 – 1)
  • Project-level greenhouse gas emissions (ISO 14064 – 2)
  • The requirements for validating and verifying pertinent accountings(ISO 14064 – 3)

Carbon Footprint

Carbon Footprint

What is ECA?

Enterprise Carbon Accounting (ECA) is a system for tracking and managing an organization’s carbon footprint.

It covers all aspects of an organization’s carbon emissions, including scope one emissions from company-owned sources, Scope 2 emissions from obtaining electricity, Scope 3 emissions from indirect sources, and various other sources.

ECA helps organizations set greenhouse gas reduction targets and track progress towards those goals. It can also help identify opportunities to reduce emissions and improve efficiency.

In addition, ECA can be used to report an organization’s carbon footprint to stakeholders or compliance reporting requirements.

Features of ECA

The ECA system should have the following features.

  • Scalable and efficient – The system should be extendable as the company grows and provide real-time data without fail.
  • Comprehensive – The system should include scope 1, scope2, and scope three emissions
  • Standards – The system should support existing and new standards.
  • Regular – The system should provide regular updates of real-time data

Scope Emissions

Scope 1

Any organization that emits greenhouse gases (GHGs) has “Scope 1” emissions. Scope 1 emissions come directly from an organization’s operations, such as burning fuel to generate heat or power. 

These emissions are under the control of the organization, and so it is possible to take steps to reduce them. 

For example, an organization might switch to a cleaner-burning fuel or install energy-efficiency measures. Reducing Scope 1 emissions can directly and significantly impact an organization’s carbon footprint. 

 Scope 2

Scope 2 emissions are indirect emissions from purchased power consumption like electricity, steam, and heat.

For example, if a factory consumes electricity from a coal-fired power plant, the Scope 2 emissions from that factory would be the emissions from the coal-fired power plant.

While Scope 2 emissions are often considered less harmful than direct emissions, they can still significantly affect the air quality and contribute to climate change.

As such, businesses and individuals need to be aware of their Scope 2 emissions and take steps to reduce them where possible.

Scope 3

Scope 3 emissions are all other indirect sources of emissions in an organization’s supply chain.

These emissions can come from things like the raw materials acquired for production, the distribution, and logistics involved in getting products to consumers, employee travel, and the consumption of goods sold by the organization. 

End-of-life remediation also contributes to Scope 3 emissions. However, as organizations become more aware of their full carbon footprint, they are beginning to take steps to reduce their Scope 3 emissions. 

This often includes working with suppliers to reduce emissions at source, promoting sustainable transportation options for employees, and investing in renewable energy. Organizations can significantly impact their carbon footprint by taking action on Scope 3 emissions.

Methods

Infographic of Methods of Carbon Accounting
  • Supplier-specific method – This method Collects supplier-level greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions data from goods and services suppliers so that they can be held accountable for their contribution at all production levels.
  • Physical unit method – In this method, the calculation of GHG emission takes place by considering the number of products of the organization.
  • Spend-based method – In this method, carbon emission calculation depends on the financial value of purchased goods or services multiplied by associated emission factors.
  • Hybrid method – It is the combination of supplier-specific activity data and secondary data.

FAQs

What are carbon accounting tools?

They are software applications that help organizations track and report their greenhouse gas emissions automatically. These tools can measure an organization’s emissions from energy use, transportation, waste, and other activities. Additionally, these tools can help businesses set goals for reducing their emissions and track progress over time.

Click here to get a list of the ten best carbon accounting software.

Conclusion

Carbon accounting is calculating and managing a company’s greenhouse gas emissions. This information is then used to make better decisions about reducing emissions and becoming more environmentally friendly.

This guide covered all the essential topics on carbon accounting. We hope it is helpful to you.

Reference