Published:
Last updated:
May 24, 2024

Baseline Emissions

What are Baseline Emissions?

Baseline emissions define the amount of greenhouse gases that would be released into the atmosphere under a 'business as usual' scenario, without the implementation of any specific interventions or carbon reduction strategies. This concept is fundamental in carbon accounting, serving as a critical reference point for evaluating the effectiveness of emission reduction initiatives across various contexts.

Baseline Emissions in the Context of a Carbon Credit Project

For carbon credit projects, baseline emissions are meticulously calculated to predict what the emissions level would be without the project's intervention. This calculation is vital, as it underpins the project's legitimacy, ensuring that the carbon credits it generates represent true, additional emission reductions or removals.

Baseline Emissions In the Context of a Company's Emissions and Net Zero Journey

Companies embarking on a net zero journey utilise baseline emissions to benchmark their current greenhouse gas emissions. Establishing this baseline is a first step in setting clear, measurable goals for emissions reduction, enabling companies to track their progress over time and adjust strategies as needed to meet their sustainability targets.

How to Set a Baseline?

Organisations begin by collecting data on past emissions. This includes direct emissions from owned or controlled sources (Scope 1), indirect emissions from the generation of purchased electricity (Scope 2), and, if relevant, all other indirect emissions that occur in the value chain of the company (Scope 3).

Some of the key frameworks and standards that deal with setting baselines include: The Greenhouse Gas Protocol (GHG Protocol), ISO 14064-1, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), and Science-Based Targets initiative (SBTi).

Why is it important to set a baseline?

Baselines play a crucial role in the fight against climate change. They allow for the quantification of emissions reduction achievements, provide transparency in sustainability reporting, and help stakeholders make informed decisions. By establishing a clear starting point, companies and projects can track and show real progress towards their environmental goals.

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