GHG emissions changes: Redrawing baselines

GHG emissions changes: Redrawing baselines

02 June 2014 by Ailsa Burns

With recent changes to how the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) calculate CO2 emissions, the potential exists for companies in the UK to experience significant shifts in both individual emission factors and overall Scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions.  These changes have been published as part of DEFRA’s greenhouse gas conversion factors for company reporting:  methodology paper for emission factors which reviewed the format and content of GHG conversion factors.  


Electricity Greenhouse Gas Changes

There is an energy cost in moving electricity around the network and according to the new DEFRA boundaries, any energy spent delivering your electricity to your door can be considered as a third party emission and so would fall into Scope 3.  Typically, over the last 20 years, around 5-10% of electricity emissions in the UK have come from the transmission and distribution of electricity around the network.  Taking this new approach should have no impact on the overall CO2e reported, but it will mean a 5-10% drop in CO2 emissions under Scope 2.


‘All Scopes’ Factors

In a similar manner to the changes to electricity emission calculation, DEFRA have sought to clarify the boundaries of responsibility for fossil fuel emissions.  By eliminating ‘All Scopes’ emission factors, DEFRA aims to make it much easier for companies to understand the boundaries of Scope 1, 2 and 3.  Each fossil fuel now has a clear and distinct ‘Well to Tank’ emission factor.


For companies who have an existing and effectively deployed sustainability software, adapting to new DEFRA guidelines should be a reasonably pain free experience.  If the appropriate emission calculations are setup within their system then the use of these new emission factors should not require a significant effort.  Where a greater degree of granularity is expected or required, then a more significant piece of work may be needed.  A switch to more segmented reporting could require the implementation of dual GHG indicators for each energy source; the first indicator calculating the Scope 1 or 2 emissions and the second indicator calculating the Scope 3 emission.  Finally, any headline GHG indicators would need to be updated to consider these new calculations. 


SustainIt as a partner

The change in methodology released by DEFRA is designed to provide companies with a greater capability to produce more accurate corporate reports that consider not only Scope 1 and 2, but also Scope 3 emissions.  The changes in the methodology means that it is important to update the emission factors used during GHG calculations to ensure that historic data is using the correct emission factors.  This is where SustainIt can help.  We can provide a complimentary review of your current system in order to assess what changes are needed as a result of the changes to the DEFRA guidelines.  We can then help you to update your system so that the emission factors used during GHG calculations are correct.  If you would like to learn more about this service, then please contact Ailsa Burns on or 0117 325 4168.

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