Measuring scope 3 carbon emissions

Tags: carbon | emissions | reduction | scope3 | indirect


HEFCE commissioned work to help the higher education (HE) sector measure scope 3 carbon emissions. This forms part of their overall approach to reducing carbon emissions.

Scope 3 emissions are indirect emissions that organisations produce through their activities, but occur from sources not owned or controlled by the organisation. Examples of such activities include business travel, commuting, supply chain (procurement), waste and water. The work was commissioned under three themes:

Arup, De Montfort University and the Centre for Sustainability Accounting (CenSA) were appointed to work on supply chain (procurement), water and waste, and JMP undertook the work on transport. The project teams engaged with a range of higher education institutions (HEIs), sector organisations and others. The outputs in each case are:

  • an HE sector baseline of supply chain (procurement) emissions
  • definitions for measuring emissions at institutional level that can be included within the Estate Management Statistics (EMS) from 2012-13
  • good practice guidance that helps institutions adopt efficient and effective data collection practices.

The recommendations in the reports aim to strike a balance between encouraging institutions to report scope 3 data and recognising the potential challenges and resource requirements in capturing data. Reporting these data will provide institutions with information to help manage scope 3 emissions and demonstrate their efforts alongside reductions in scope 1 and 2 emissions. To minimise burden the work considered existing systems and processes for obtaining information, and aligns with national carbon reporting guidance and protocols.

The Estate Management Statistics are collected by the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA). The proposed scope 3 definitions in these reports are contributing to an ongoing review of the content and structure of EMS. HESA will consult with the HE sector in early 2012 on the proposed changes to the EMS definitions. Therefore, the scope 3 definitions for EMS are not yet finalised. It is expected that most, if not all, of the scope 3 definitions will be optional data items in the collection of EMS.

Update March 2014

Please note that with reference to  'Measuring scope 3 carbon emissions – supply chain (procurement): Report to HEFCE on an emissions reporting framework by Arup, CenSA and De Montfort University' and  following HEFCE's discussions with the Purchasing Consortia about the hosting of the tool, that the tool is held by the regional consortia. They get the spend data from HEIs and send them back their Scope 3 reports.

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