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Carbon emissions data simplified: Taking steps to reach your carbon reduction goals!

(Courtesy Getty Images, Jittalia17)
(Courtesy Getty Images, Jittalia17)

In today's world, where climate change is a pressing concern, accurately reporting carbon emissions is not just a responsibility but a necessity. Whether you are part of a big company, a small business, or a government agency, collecting carbon emissions data is crucial for transparent climate disclosures.

This data not only helps in reporting your environmental impact but also lays the foundation for taking effective action to reduce emissions. This beginner-friendly guide will walk you through the steps to start collecting carbon emissions data, enabling you to contribute to a more sustainable future. 

First, what is carbon emissions data? 

Carbon emissions data refers to the information related to the amount of greenhouse gases (like CO2, CH4 and N2O) released into the atmosphere due to various activities. These emissions are often categorized into three scopes: 

  • Scope 1 emissions: These are direct emissions from sources owned or controlled by the organization, such as company vehicles or factory operations. 
  • Scope 2 emissions: These emissions come from the generation of purchased electricity, steam, heating and cooling that the organization consumes. 
  • Scope 3 emissions: These are indirect emissions, not produced by the organization itself but related to its activities. This includes emissions from the supply chain, business travel and waste disposal. 

How do you collect carbon emissions data?

Step 1: Set your baseline
Identify which year you want to be the year you compare and measure your progress against. Choose a year where you were operating normally, with easy-to-collect, readily available information. If you are a multi-site operation, this should be done at the corporate level, but data should be pulled together by location.

Step 2: Set your scope
If you are just starting out, a simplified first step is collecting your energy invoices, as that will get you a long way to reporting your Scope 1 and 2 emissions. While company vehicles are included in Scope 1, this may be a more complicated ask to include your first time trying to create your carbon footprint. It’s okay to limit the scope in year one and build on it in year two. Take your second year to ensure you accurately collect the data you want to add and ensure that by the time you update your report, you are confident you have the information you need to improve upon the year one baseline.

Step 3: Data collection
Pull together 12 months of utility invoices that cover your baseline period. You can do this in a spreadsheet or on a verified online database platform that will combine your energy usage and carbon emissions data into one location.

You will need to ensure you have consumption by commodity type, emissions factors by region for electricity grids and the global warming potential for each commodity type.

Step 4: Reporting
Now that you have a listing of your consumption, emissions factors and global warming potential, you can convert all your data to carbon dioxide equivalents. This will allow for consistent, comparable figures to use in the future, allowing you to report to stakeholders and address the steps you will take to ensure improvement over time.

Remember, this is a marathon, not a sprint.

Do your best to get the information you have readily available and add to it over time. Don’t forget to ask for help. A team approach is the best way to accomplish your carbon objectives, as no one person has all the answers. It will take a coordinated approach to make gains year after year. If you don’t have all the answers, it’s OK. There are experts out there to help. Consult an expert if you have any questions about gathering carbon emission statistics. Governmental organizations, trade associations and organizations like 360 Energy can all offer insightful counsel and support. 

Properly collecting carbon emissions data is a cornerstone in addressing climate change. It serves as a vital tool for individuals, businesses, and governments to make informed decisions and take effective action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. By following the steps outlined in this guide, you can contribute to a more sustainable and resilient future for our planet.

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