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Keywords:

  • greenhouse gas assessment;
  • carbon footprint;
  • scope 3 emission factors;
  • reporting accuracy;
  • corporate carbon strategy;
  • climate change strategy;
  • environmental strategy

ABSTRACT

Scholars and practitioners acknowledge the benefits of organizations understanding their contribution to global warming and implementing carbon management strategies to address climate change concerns. A key element of a carbon management strategy is to reduce emissions, which requires an assessment of a firm's greenhouse gas emissions. For most organizations the indirect (scope 3) emissions represent the largest portion of their total carbon footprint. When facility-specific data are not available, firms are encouraged to use standard emission factors to calculate scope 3 emissions. This paper investigates how sampled Australian organizations assess their scope 3 emissions with respect to the emission factors they are using to convert activity data into units of carbon dioxide equivalent emission (CO2-e), and the implications for producing an accurate emission assessment. The research study found that, where conversion information was not available in a recognized government publication, the use of varying conversion value sources resulted in wide discrepancies in reported emissions for like activities. This undermines the assessment quality, makes comparison of results across organizations difficult and can lead to inappropriate carbon management strategy choices and misallocation of resources. Copyright © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd and ERP Environment