Last updated:
May 24, 2024

GHG Protocol

What is the GHG Protocol?

The GHG Protocol, or the Greenhouse Gas Protocol, is the most widely used accounting framework for government and business leaders to understand, quantify, and manage greenhouse gas emissions. It provides a comprehensive global standardised framework to measure and manage emissions and mitigation actions. This sets the standard for emissions measurement, enabling consistent tracking of performance and progress across a variety of sectors and geographic regions.

How to measure emissions under the GHG Protocol

The GHG Protocol categorises emissions into three scopes:

  1. Scope 1 Emissions: Direct emissions from owned or controlled sources.
  2. Scope 2 Emissions: Indirect emissions from the generation of purchased electricity, steam, heating, and cooling consumed by the reporting company.
  3. Scope 3 Emissions: All other indirect emissions not covered in Scope 2 that occur in the company’s value chain.

These scopes help organisations structure their emissions reduction strategies and focus on areas where they can make the most significant impact.

What are examples of emission measurements under the GHG Protocol?

Using the GHG Protocol, companies can apply various methodologies to measure and report emissions:

  • The Corporate Standard provides standards and guidance for companies to prepare a GHG emissions inventory as part of their corporate carbon footprint. This includes setting organisational and operational boundaries, tracking emissions over time, and identifying major emission sources.
  • The Scope 3 Standard helps companies measure and manage indirect emissions from activities such as business travel, procurement, waste disposal, and use of sold products.
  • The Product Life Cycle Standard enables companies to measure GHG emissions associated with the full lifecycle of products or services, from raw material acquisition through production to use and disposal.

How to implement effective emission management strategies with the GHG Protocol

The GHG Protocol also supports the mitigation hierarchy, which guides companies in prioritising actions to avoid, reduce, and then neutralise their emissions. Here, companies can use the protocol’s comprehensive methodology to first identify and mitigate direct emissions (Scope 1 and 2). For unavoidable emissions, organisations can invest in carbon credits from verified carbon credit projects that align with the protocol’s guidelines to ensure the integrity and effectiveness of the credits.

The mitigation hierarchy showing the order of avoiding, reducing, and neutralising carbon emissions

Regulatory Landscape + Strategic Frameworks

The GHG Protocol informs regulatory frameworks around the world by providing a reliable and consistent methodology for emissions reporting that is compatible with national and international climate policies. For example, the protocol’s guidelines are integral to the development of national emissions reporting programs and corporate sustainability strategies. It also aligns with other strategic frameworks, like the CDP (formerly Carbon Disclosure Project), which uses the GHG Protocol to influence thousands of companies to disclose their environmental impacts and take action to reduce them.

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