Explainer: Guide to Scope 1 emissions

Scope 1 emissions are direct greenhouse gas emissions from sources that are owned or controlled by an organisation

Differences from Scope 2 and Scope 3

  • Scope 1 emissions are direct emissions under the company's control.
  • Scope 2 emissions relate to indirect emissions from the consumption of purchased electricity, heat, or steam.
  • Scope 3 emissions are all other indirect emissions that occur in a company's value chain, including both upstream and downstream emissions.

Typical Sources of Scope 1 Emissions in Organisations

Common sources include company vehicles, fuel combustion in boilers, furnaces, or other equipment, and any chemical processes that release greenhouse gases. Industries with significant Scope 1 emissions include manufacturing, transportation, and agriculture.

Measuring and Reporting Scope 1 Emissions

Companies measure these emissions by calculating the greenhouse gases produced from direct sources, using emission factors that convert the amount of fuel or energy used into kilograms of CO2 equivalent. This data is then reported in sustainability reports or to environmental regulators, often following guidelines from frameworks like the Greenhouse Gas Protocol.

Scope 1 Emissions in the Electricity Sector

Scope 1 emissions in the electricity sector are generated through the combustion of fuels to produce electricity and, to a lesser extent, from the process and fugitive emissions associated with fuel extraction, processing, and delivery.

Scope 1 emissions are direct from electricity generation, whereas Scope 2 covers indirect emissions from purchased electricity by end-users, and Scope 3 includes other indirect emissions like those from the extraction and transport of fuels.

Here is a summary of how different fuels contribute to scope 1 emissions in electricity:

  • Coal: Being the most carbon-intensive fuel, coal combustion for electricity generation results in high levels of Scope 1 CO2 emissions.
  • Natural Gas: Emits about 50-60% less CO2 than coal when combusted but can lead to methane leaks, another potent greenhouse gas.
  • Renewable Biomass: Considered carbon-neutral under certain conditions, as the CO2 released during combustion is offset by the carbon absorbed during the growth of the biomass. However, incorrect handling or sourcing can lead to net emissions.

Get your weekly briefing

Sign up to get the free climate data briefing in your inbox every week.