Carbon Emissions Factors

Carbon emissions and how to calculate them

What are carbon emissions?

Carbon emissions are made up of the Carbon Dioxide which is a greenhouse gas. When carbon dioxide gas is released into the atmosphere, the carbon dioxide molecules trap heat from the sun which warms our planet.

To sustain life on earth we need greenhouse gases, without any the planet’s surface temperature would be -18 degrees.

However, the large volume of greenhouse gases continuously being emitted into the atmosphere is having a disastrous impact. The sheer amount of greenhouse gases that we as humans are producing is causing unprecedented warming of the planet. This is leading to climate change.

Global temperatures have increased by 1 degrees C since pre-industrial times. This has changed entire ecosystems. We are seeing an increasing frequency of extreme weather events, tree-lines are altering, ice caps melting, and species are being forced out of their habitats.

What should we do?

It is important to understand where we are order to reduce our carbon emissions. If we can map where emissions are coming from it will help us to put in place measures to reduce these emissions.

An effective way to do this is by calculating your carbon footprint.

A carbon footprint is defined as ‘the total greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions caused by an individual, event, organisation, or product’.

How to calculate carbon emissions?

The first step is to scope out your carbon footprinting project. What is it you want to achieve? Do you want to highlight areas in your supply chain that are large emitters? Or do you want to focus on your direct operations i.e. the buildings you have control over?

Start by calculating your direct and indirect emissions that you can control. These are referred to as scope 1 (direct emissions, e.g. from using fuel in your own vehicles and the combustion of gas on your site) and scope 2 (indirect emissions from the purchase of energy e.g. electricity used on your site).

Scope 3 emissions refer to all other indirect emissions. There are 15 categories and gathering data to measure these emissions can be tricky.

When setting out the scope of your project conduct a screening of all 15 categories and focus on those that have the highest impact.

Once you have identified the areas you need to measure to calculate your carbon footprint, you can start collecting data.

What formulas do I need to use?

Luckily, you don’t need to use any. That is because you can use software to do all the work for you. Compare Your Footprint is an online tool that will calculate your entire carbon footprint, hassle free. All you need to do is plug your data in. For example, your total kWh of electricity use for the year, along with kWh gas, m3 water and km travel data.

Alternatively, get in touch with us at Green Element and we can come in and calculate your footprint for you. Read our case studies to find out more.