Scope 4 emissions are avoided emissions that occur outside of a product or service’s lifecycle. To fully understand scope 4 emissions, one must understand the context of scopes for reporting greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.
What are scopes?
Scopes are used to classify the GHG emissions of a company. These scopes can be used as an assessment for organizations and regulators to monitor the amount of emissions produced within certain classifications. There are four different types of scopes, numbered Scope 1, Scope 2, Scope 3 and Scope 4 emissions.
Scope 1 emissions are direct GHG emissions owned or controlled by the organization. As a product of production activities, these emissions are directly released into the atmosphere. For example, the emissions produced fuel and heating sources or emissions from company-owned vehicles.
Scope 2 emissions are indirect emissions created by purchased energy from utility providers. This includes all GHG emissions released into the atmosphere from consuming purchased electricity, steam, heat and cooling.
Scope 3 emissions include both upstream and downstream emissions created through the value chain of the reporting company, which are often linked to a company’s operations. A few examples include emissions from employees commuting or traveling and emissions from shipping and distribution.
How does Scope 4 contribute to emissions reporting?
As Scope 4 describes avoided emissions, it is helpful in visualizing the reduction of long-term GHG emissions. While Scope 1-3 focus on what emissions an organization is currently producing, Scope 4 emissions allow for a flexible approach to situations where developing new products or services may temporarily increase an organization’s emissions. Scope 4 emissions also allow for innovations to combat increasing emissions without the fear of producing more greenhouse gases in the process.
Read: Why The 3 Scopes of Carbon Emissions Are Important To Your Company
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