Navigating the Complex World of Scope 1 Emissions: Challenges and Solutions


A detailed visual guide to identifying and overcoming the key challenges in calculating Scope 1 GHG emissions, featuring solutions for enhanced accuracy

Scope 1 emissions are the emissions which are owned or controlled by the company. These are direct emissions which comprise a majority of emissions from the company. The four major sources of greenhouse emissions are stationary combustion sources, mobile sources, processing and manufacturing sources and fugitive emission sources.

Companies and organisations employ various calculation methodologies to account for their scope 1 emissions to attain international and national compliance. This accounting ensures companies identify emission sources and thus measure and maintain GHG emissions. Accurate Scope 1 emission calculation data helps companies to know their emissions and devise strategies to attain emission reduction targets and achieve sustainability.

Challenges in Scope 1 Calculation

The various challenges are described in the pointers below regarding accurate GHG accounting in context with scope 1 calculation.

A. Data Availability and Quality

Data quality and availability depend on factors like fuel usage, time and user. It is crucial to collect primary data with utmost clarity and sincerity as these are dependent on fuel activity data. Thus collection of activity data becomes the initial responsibility of the organisations and thus becomes a challenge for the companies. This challenge becomes more daunting when the supply chain is accounted for due to multiple small businesses running. There is poor data quality from these small businesses.

B. Variability in Emission Factors

Emission factors represent the GHG emissions rate from products and processes. It is expressed as kg CO2 e/kW h. It is accessed from common databases like DEFRA in the UK or IPCC or sole research papers. Usually, emission factors consider emissions from the beginning to the end of the production. This approach is not similar to other databases. Thus, using EF in carbon accounting creates a change in the values. Hence, it should be done with utmost care.

C. Measurement and Monitoring Issues

Facilities like Continuous Emissions Monitoring (CEM) involve the installation of a monitor that calculates emissions by measuring carbon dioxide and the volume of gas flowing. However, many organisations calculate emissions on an aggregated basis rather than an individual facility recommended by the EPA.

D. Incorporating shared Emissions

Gas combustion and electricity consumption contribute to scope 1 emissions. However, shared spaces were a common sight during COVID. GHG protocol ensures that emissions should be broken down into appropriate subsections and data collection should contain a share of floor space occupied by the company. It is practically impossible to divide a company’s share of electricity/gas usage.

Overcoming Challenges

The company needs to measure Scope 1 emissions to ensure their emission hotspots and attain reduction targets. It is crucial to keep the following points in mind to overcome the scope 1 emission calculation challenge.

A. Improve Data Collection Processes

Data collection personnel are required to follow the correct data collection method and implement the correct calculation approach to measure GHG emissions. This calculation will turn out to be correct only when the data collection process employs a robust monitoring system. Correct extraction of data after setting inventory boundaries through CEMS or fuel utilisation is crucial to enhancing its reporting and promoting data transparency.

B. Refine Emission Factor Selection

Emission factors are utilised to convert activity data to emission data. UNFCCC recommends the use of suitable emission factors to refine the calculation. It is important to stay updated and utilise relevant region-specific emission factors to calculate emissions. Regular reviews and third-party validations are important to maintain the accuracy of data.

C. Enhance Measurement and Monitoring Techniques

A good investment in advanced measurement technologies to ensure correct data collection is a good start. Advanced measurement equipment with accurate calibration measures enhances measurement and provides correct monitoring of emission data.

While Scope 1 calculation involves identification from defined sources, it becomes equally important to ensure correct data collection and monitoring methods. Application of an appropriate calculation approach after data collection and maintaining uniformity in units is necessary. The selection of emission factors should be derived from standard guidelines and be region-specific. In case of inaccuracy, the preference should be given to the primary data. Employing the correct monitoring method helps in correct data monitoring. All these initiatives will positively impact in overcoming challenges associated with scope 1 data collection.

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