What is Climate Change?

Thanks to years of observation, theories and model building, scientists know with high confidence that climate change is happening today and is the result of greenhouse gas emissions caused by human activity.

With rapid global action to cut greenhouse gas emissions, we can reduce the likelihood of global temperatures increasing by more than 1.5 – 2°C (which may still lead to the loss of natural habitats and resources). 

On the other hand, if we take no action, global temperatures could increase by 4°C or more by the end of the century.

Many impacts of climate change are already being detected, including:

  1. Warming of the troposphere (the lower part of the atmosphere)
  2. Acidification of the oceans
  3. Rising sea levels
  4. Declining glaciers and sea ice
  5. Slowing of increases to crop productivity

You can find out more about Climate Change at the Climate Change Committee website here 

Scope 1, 2 & 3 Emissions explained

Scopes are the basis for mandatory GHG reporting in the UK.

Scope 1 — This covers the Green House Gas (GHG) emissions that a company makes directly.

Scope 2 — These are the emissions it makes indirectly from using certain providers or utilities.

Scope 3 — These are the emissions that are not included in scope 2 and classed as indirect emissions. This includes supply chain and supplier products.

Deeper Dive Into the Scopes and why they matter.

Scope 3 Emissions

Scope 3 emissions are emissions associated with the other entities a company interacts with up and down the value chain. Examples of upstream emissions include those generated by a supplier’s distribution activities, and the production of raw materials or components bought by the company. Downstream, the term covers emissions generated by travel or the use or disposal of the end product that the company sells.

For many businesses, Scope 3 emissions account for more than 70 percent of their carbon footprint.

Here's why it matters

  • Scope 3 emissions are not easily ring fenced and much more difficult to track accurately.
  • Businesses have less control on how they’re addressed: suppliers must be willing to support the business in addressing Scope 3 emissions.

To sidestep this challenge and reach net zero, companies may attempt to ‘de-scope’ emissions by outsourcing emissions-heavy activities like manufacturing.

Scope 2 Emissions

Scope 2 is focusing on the indirect GHG emissions associated with the purchase of electricity, steam, heat, or cooling. They are accounted for in an organisation's GHG inventory because they are a result of the organization's energy use (despite not being directly produced by the business).

Scope 1 Emissions

If you are calculating an organisations footprint, you will often encounter some of all of the below subsections:

  • Stationary combustion - e.g. fuels and heating sources
  • Mobile combustion - focused on vehicles that are owned or controlled by a firm.  These need to be fuel burning vehicles as electrical vehicles (EV’s) means that some fleets fall into scope 2.
  • Fugitive emissions - emissions that are seen as leaks or irregular releases of gases or vapours from a pressurised containment.

Process emissions - released during an industrial process

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