Scope 3 Assessment

Research Sustainability Scope 3 Assessment

Scope 3 Assessment

The GHG Protocol provides internationally accepted and widely used standards for measuring, reporting, and assessing greenhouse gas emissions. Thereby, it supports companies and organizations to reduce negative environmental impacts and to achieve their climate goals. The GHG Protocol categorizes emitted greenhouse gases into three scopes:

  • Scope 1 – direct emissions from company-owned sources
  • Scope 2 – indirect emissions from energy use
  • Scope 3 – remaining indirect emissions along the entire value chain

Overview of GHG Protocol: scopes and emissions

Overview of GHG Protocol scopes and emissions across the value chain

What does Scope 3 mean?

Scope 3 is generally the most comprehensive category and includes the majority of indirect greenhouse gas emissions that occur along a company’s value chain. As a result, measuring Scope 3 emissions is comparatively complex. However, as Scope 3 emissions account for up to 90 percent of environmental impacts in companies, their measurability and comparability is an essential factor for an effective sustainability strategy. In addition, the European Parliament’s Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSRD) requires significantly more companies to report Scope 3 emissions in the near future.

How does the Scope 3 Assessment work?

WifOR’s Scope 3 Assessment is based on the methodology developed by the GHG Protocol. The approach is broken down into three steps: identifying relevant Scope 3 categories for an organization or industry, quantifying the emissions throughout the global value chain, and refining results to provide accurate insights.

Scope 3 emissions upstream are defined using the following eight categories:

  • Purchased goods and services
  • Capital goods
  • Fuel and energy-related activities (not included in Scope 1 or Scope 2)
  • Upstream transportation and distribution
  • Waste generated in operations
  • Business travel
  • Employee commuting
  • Upstream leased assets

To calculate global impacts, WifOR uses an environmentally extended input-output model. These results are then refined to provide insights at the country, product, department or, depending on the data, supplier level.

In this video, starting at minute 9:10, Head of Impact Analysis Dr. Richard Scholz explains how to calculate Scope 3 emissions upstream using WISIT – the WifOR Sustainability Impact Tool.


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Measuring and Understanding your Scope 3 Emissions

What does the Scope 3 Assessment offer organizations and industries?

Scope 3 Assessment offers a variety of benefits for organizations and industries. These benefits include:

  • Forming a scientific basis for holistically managing environmental sustainability
  • Providing insights into environmental hotspots and reduction potentials in the value chain
  • Opening new channels of dialogue with stakeholders across society and supporting informed communication
  • Enhancing non-financial reporting based on reliable data

Scope 3 Assessment: Political context

The United Nations has set 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) on its 2030 Agenda. The SDGs were adopted by all UN Member Nations in 2015 and are a call for global cooperation to promote peace, prosperity, and planetary well-being.

WifOR’s sustainability research supports organizations and industries in orienting themselves to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. The Scope 3 Assessment positively contributes to the following SDGs:

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