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PLANETARY BOUNDARY #1 CLIMATE CHANGE: Scope 3 carbon emissions - time to measure our full impact

This year - Earth Overshoot Day was on July 29th which marked the point at which humanity has used more from nature than our planet can renew in the entire year. The date has been getting progressively earlier for the last 10 years, despite increased awareness of our planetary limits. So what responsibility are corporates taking in mitigating their impacts?

Recent research from Article 13 has revealed some startling carbon and water impacts from the world’s largest businesses with 2/3 of companies still not basing their targets on what the world needs them to do. With the planetary boundaries crossed for both climate change (globally) and water (regionally) this is a critical time for action.

The impact of scope 3 carbon emissions is huge, but reduction efforts appear so far negligible

Companies are generally setting achievable targets for their direct carbon emissions for 2025. 84% of the 240 companies reviewed report having set reduction targets. However, this only considers the companies’ scope 1 and 2 emissions.

What about scope 3 emissions associated with their wider value chain, including smaller companies in their supply chains and individual end-users and customers?

Whilst 81% of the companies report scope 3 emissions, only 22% of companies have set targets to reduce them. The combined scope 3 emissions represented approximately 9.6bn tonnes CO2e, that’s over six times the amount of their scope 1 and 2 emissions.

This research shows that scope 3 emissions account for a far bigger carbon footprint than direct emissions. The challenge is in measuring these emissions across supply chains and then making a commitment to reduction.

For the corporate sector to play its part in pushing back Earth Overshoot Day, it must address its real impact on the planet’s resources and base targets on what the world needs them to do. All companies need to set reduction targets for scope 3 carbon emissions.


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