Gyles Scott-Hayward (UK) - Managing Carbon Emissions Across Global Operations and Minimising Complexity

Carbon represents a new management challenge and risk to business leaders. And as with any new challenge the first step is to understand one’s exposure. Gyles Scott-Hayward from Greenstone Carbon Management looks at how to recognise and manage carbon emissions across global operations.

Carbon disclosure is now an integral part of CSR reports and an increasingly essential part of companies' annual reporting. Managing organisational emissions in an effective way to help identify and combat the ever changing risks and opportunities for those organisations, be it on a financial, reputational or regulatory level. Central to understanding your organisation's emissions profile is the ability to produce an accurate carbon footprint. Accurate data will help organisations to convert existing data sources, such as utility bills or fuel consumption, into Co2 equivalent emissions and yet this is where many organisations still fall short.

Due to the complex and organisation specific nature of managing carbon emissions, a number of reporting methodologies have emerged at international and national levels. Most prevalent and widely supported of these mechanisms is the Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Protocol. Since it was first published in 2001, the GHG protocol has provided a standardised approach to reporting GHGs, and its associated emission factors are the most widely used international carbon calculation methodology. However, due to the differences in emission factors between countries a number of subsequent standards have been developed.

Noteworthy amongst these are the UK Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) guidelines on carbon reporting in the UK which use UK specific emission factors. Other countries have also developed reporting methodologies, each with their own specific emission factors and reporting requirements. For example, the French Environment Agency (ADEME) has developed Bilan Carbone which includes one of the most comprehensive sets of emission factors available for business activities and raw materials.

It is this combination of different methodological requirements as well as the variations in emission factors that makes carbon reporting a complicated process to carry out correctly and effectively for global organisations with operations in different countries. However, with the deployment of carbon management software, the process becomes simplified, auditable, transparent and consistent. Geographical boundaries no longer represent high compliance risks and with the measurement and calculations in hand, focus can shift to the development of carbon reduction programmes.

Steps organisation can take to manage their carbon emissions across multiple countries:

1.) Decide which methodology/emission factors you should use

   • This depends on whether your organisation is located across one or more countries (E.g. Uk - Defra, France - Bilan Carbone, International reporting - GHG Protocol).
   • Use GHG Protocol for global reporting, this ensures consistency in the carbon footprint across all sites and enables like for like comparisons.

2.) Decide what data to collect across the organisation

Emissions resulting from an organisation's business activities can be broken down into the following broad categories, defined as "Scopes" by the GHG Protocol:
   • Scope 1 - direct emissions from sources owned or controlled by the organisation in question, for example combustion processes e.g. boilers and motor vehicles.
   • Scope 2 - indirect emissions from the generation of purchased electricity, steam or heating/cooling.
   • Scope 3 - other indirect emissions resulting from the business activities of an organisation over which it has no operational control e.g. business travel, waste disposal as well as products and services used by the organisation.

3.) Calculate your carbon emissions and implement reduction strategies

Using a carbon management software tool enables companies to measure emissions regularly without the need to engage external consultants, through the automatic processing of the carbon emissions calculation according to multiple methodologies. The risks of calculation errors are mitigated and any changes to emission factors are reflected in the system automatically, so your organisation can be reassured that the latest set of factors are being applied. Carbon management software can offer a multinational organisation the cross-country collaboration necessary to identify and prioritise emission reduction initiatives and monitor their impact over time.

Carbon represents a new management challenge and risk to business leaders. As with any new challenge the first step is to understand one's exposure - in the case of carbon this means measuring carbon emissions across the enterprise and establishing a baseline. From this baseline compliance exposure and liability can be addressed and carbon management processes and reduction activities can be initiated to address operational risks.


Gyles Scott-Hayward, Carbon Analyst, Greenstone Carbon Management, a specialist carbon solutions company - based in London, United Kingdom. For further information please visit: