Scope 3 emissions and the role of employees in sustainability

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Scope 3 emissions reduction are crucial for achieving sustainable planetary goals, and employees play a very important role on it. But how can companies report and manage their indirect impact?

According to research from Deloitte, scope 3 is the big one when it comes to managing a company’s emissions reduction. In fact, it amounts to 70% of an organizations’ carbon footprint. But, it is also the trickiest of scopes to manage and measure. 

Understanding the relevance and potential of managing scope 3 is key to finding ways for emission reduction to work throughout the entire value chain, from suppliers to costumers and even employees. 

scope 3 emissions

Emissions reduction reporting

Companies have had to report emissions for quite sometime now, including their efforts to reduce or mitigate their most negatively impactful set of emissions. And while thorough reporting on scope 1 and 2 emissions seem to be the norm, those included in scope 3 tend to create more complications.

Scope 1:

Direct emissions; those that a company causes by operating the things that it owns or controls. 

Scope 2:

Indirect emissions that derive from the production of the energy the organization buys. 

Scope 3: 

Indirect emissions that fall out of the company’s control and under the wider value-chain.

The nature of indirect emissions themselves is a difficult concept, as companies struggle to have influence in the entirety of the value-chain or products’ lifecycle.

But what sets apart scope 2 and scope 3, as they both refer to indirect emissions, is how the first still falls under the control of organizations. For example, a company can make the decision to power their offices through renewable energy sources. 

On the other hand, scope 3 emissions become more tricky to manage and measure as the power or influence to mitigate them falls under the wider value chain, this includes emissions from consumers using a product to employees’ commuting to work. 

Managing scope 3 emissions

As complex as scope 3 emissions are to manage and collect accurate data on, if we look at it from the bright side we might realize they are in fact a great tool to incentivize emissions reduction.  

This is, while measuring such indirect emissions is an ongoing challenge for many companies, it is also the perfect mechanism for businesses to align throughout the value chain and generate increasingly accurate data and improves sustainability. 

scope 3 emissions

Companies, for example, do hold influence and power, as well as responsibility, to choose their suppliers carefully and following a set of sustainability and social responsibility criteria or standards.

But, when these are not met, offering suppliers decarbonization or sustainability training can also become a good practice towards scope 3 emission reduction goals. 

Consumers’ scope 3 emissions on the other hand are trickier to control or have influence upon; but, investing on making products or services more efficient, sustainable, responsible or durable, following a circular economy mindset, can help reduce such indirect emissions greatly. 

Scope 3 and the role of employees

Employees constitute one of the most important sources of indirect emissions for companies. In this regard, Scope 3 emissions reporting tends to take into account things such as employees’ commuting to work, for example.

However, an individual’s emissions go far beyond just the way they choose to move from point A to point B, and here is where businesses can find great influence and help raise awareness all while generating relevant reporting data. 

Engage employees in the sustainability strategy

Learn more about how we help drive engagement

An important step many companies have made in regards to commuting emissions is giving employees the possibility to work from home, for example, which in turn can also help with work-life balance or even rural abandonment

And while teleworking is not a possibility for everyone, some business also choose to help employees by offering buses or making other ways of transportation specific to the company available to employees so they don’t resort to commuting alone by car. 

But just focusing on employee commuting reduces sustainability efforts to a very small portion of what employees can actually help create for the sustainability strategy of the company. The way individuals make use of electricity, water and even the products they consume are also great sources of emissions ready to be reported. 

scope 3 emissions
Engaging employees in the sustainability strategy

Employees, and individuals in general, hold great power and responsibility to reduce their negative impact on the planet and society. And while commuting is a very big source of emissions, companies should not get stuck solely on this and in fact look a little further and beyond.

The workplace, together with work colleagues, can become the perfect environment for pushing sustainability actions that not only help improve scope 3 emissions reporting, but help build a culture of sustainability throughout the entire organization. 

In DoGood we believe that working collectively can help us find that which alone may seem unattainable or useless and instead create a collective and individual eagerness to make a difference, both for the sustainability and purpose of the company and a more sustainable way of being for all employees. 

This mindset together with digitalization can improve scope 3 reporting with accurate data on indirect emissions. 

Through our technology we help companies establish ESG impact objectives for employees in regards to the sustainability strategy of the company, activating and tracking employees’ impact, and creating engagement that translates into improved ESG metrics, reputational value and an overall positive impact for the environment and society.

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