Before you can start your journey to net zero, it is important to understand where you are starting from. This guide explains all you need to know about carbon footprinting and how to measure this in your business.
Companies of all sizes from around the world are committing to net zero emissions – but you can’t set a target without measuring your carbon footprint first.
No matter what sector you operate in, the need to understand your carbon footprint is now a mainstay of business operations. Energy intensive and large firms across the UK are required to report on their carbon emissions, and increasing procurement processes, including those with the UK Government, require respondents to share their carbon reduction plans as part of the tendering process. As such, carbon footprinting – the process of measuring your businesses environmental impact – deserves time and attention in your business planning.
On a more practical level, measuring your carbon footprint provides many direct benefits including cost reduction, competitive advantage and company image, but you can’t manage what you don’t measure, and by collecting the data you’ll need for a carbon footprint you’ll be able to identify and prioritise where you can make the biggest improvements to the way you use energy, fuel and other resources.
What is a carbon footprint?
Put simply, it’s a measure of your contribution of greenhouse gases to the atmosphere. There are generally two types – organisational carbon footprints and product carbon footprints. This blog focuses on the former.
Although it is commonly referred to as a carbon footprint, best practice includes all the greenhouse gas emissions you emit over a 12-month period and gives you a total figure expressed in tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e). There are six key greenhouse gases emitted by human activities that contribute to global warming, but to make things easier we measure everything in relation to CO2 because it’s the most common.
There are many possible sources of greenhouse gas emissions from a business. To make managing them easier, we split them into three ‘scopes’.