Greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions measurement methodology

The Methodology in a nutshell

2050Today’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions measurement methodology follows the GHG Protocol. The Protocol provides standards and guidance for organizations to measure and manage climate-warming emissions. It was created in 1998 through a partnership between the World Resources Institute (WRI) and the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD).

According to the GHG Protocol, the distribution of emissions is done by scopes:

Scope 1 represents direct emissions linked to the consumption of fossil fuels.

Scope 2 represents indirect emissions from the generation of purchased electricity, steam, heating and cooling consumed by the reporting company.

Scope 3 includes all other indirect emissions that occur in a company’s value chain (i.e. purchased good or services, business travel, employee commuting).

The 2050Today carbon footprint takes into account the reported emissions generated by the activities of the institution over one year and is divided by categories:

Energy and water

It takes into  account the amount of the consumed electricity produced and purchased by the institution. The energy consumed to heat and/or cool the institution’s building area and the consumed water are included as well.


It takes into consideration business travels and commuting (on a survey basis).


The CO2 impact of food includes the catering of the institution and individual consumption (on a survey basis) during working hours.

Purchased goods

The perimeter of purchased goods is set to a list of new office equipment, new mobility equipment (vehicles) and construction materials.


The perimeter of the  waste inventory is set to waste production from facilities and internal operations of the institution.

It has to be noted that the collected data of the 2050Today members resulting in each carbon footprint are not yet fully standardized and might not be entirely complete. Data collection is being progressively harmonized and improved. Therefore, direct comparisons between tCO2 / employee among institutions – be it in general or per sector – are not yet possible nor relevant. To ensure the reliability, the accuracy and a recurrent updating of the carbon footprint assessment, 2050Today is advised by an international Carbon Footprint Scientific Committee.

Data collection and inventory process

GHG data is collected each year through 2050Today Focal Points. Focal Points are 2050Today’s members appointed referents. They are responsible for coordinating the data collection process throughout their respective organization and ensuring its quality. 2050Today’s team guides and supports Focal Points all the way through the data collection process.

Greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions measurement

The GHG Protocol Corporate Accounting and Reporting Standard (Corporate Standard) outlines a standard set of accounting and reporting rules for developing corporate inventories. The Corporate Standard identifies and categorizes the emissions from all the operations that together comprise an organization. For effective and innovative GHG management, setting operational boundaries that are comprehensive with respect to direct and indirect emissions helps institutions better manage the full spectrum of GHG risks and opportunities that exist along its value chain.

The GHG protocol divides emissions according to its classification based on Scope 1, Scope 2 and Scope 3 emissions. This division helps delineate direct and indirect emission sources, improve transparency, and provide utility for different types of organizations and different types of climate policies and business goals. These three “scopes” are defined for GHG accounting and reporting purposes.

Scopes and emissions across a value chain

Source: ghgprotocol.org

Scope 1: Direct GHG emissions

Scope 1 includes direct emissions, which are emissions from sources that are owned and controlled by the reporting institution.

Organizations report GHG emissions from sources they own or control as scope 1. Direct GHG emissions are principally the result of the following types of activities undertaken by the institution:

  • Generation of electricity, heat, or steam. Stationary combustion refers to emissions from fuels burned in stationary equipment, such as the combustion of oil or gas in a local heating system. 
  • Physical or chemical processing, for example the fumes released during on-site manufacturing and other industrial processes.
  • Transportation of materials, products, waste, and employees. Emissions from the combustion of fuel used by the company’s own fleet of vehicles then fall under mobile combustion.
  • Fugitive emissions. Chemical releases from Air conditioning and refrigeration equipment which institutions own or control. 

Scope 2: Indirect GHG emissions

Scope 2 is an indirect emission category including GHG emissions from the generation of purchased or acquired electricity, steam, heat, or cooling consumed by the reporting institution. 

Scope 2 includes emissions from energy purchased or acquired and consumed by the reporting institution:

  • Electricity This type of energy is used by almost all entities. It is used to operate machines, lighting, electric vehicle charging, and certain types of heat and cooling systems.
  • Steam Formed when water boils, steam is a valuable energy source for industrial processes. It is used for mechanical work, heat, or directly as a process medium.
  • Heat Most public, commercial or industrial buildings require heat to control interior climates and heat water. Many industrial processes also require heat for specific equipment. That heat may either be produced from electricity or through a non-electrical process such as solar thermal heat or thermal combustion processes (as with a boiler or a thermal power plant) outside the institution’s operational control.
  • Cooling Similar to heat, cooling may be produced from electricity or through the distribution of cooled air or water.

Scope 3: Other indirect GHG emissions

2050Today refers to the GHG Protocol Corporate Value Chain (Scope 3) Accounting and Reporting Standard (Scope 3 Standard), which is a supplement to the Corporate Standard, to define the GHG emissions inventory that includes indirect emissions resulting from value chain activities. Scope 3 belongs to the indirect emissions.

Scope 3 emissions include upstream and downstream value chain emissions:

Upstream emissions

1. Purchased Goods and Services

2. Capital Goods

3. Fuel- and Energy-Related Activities Not Included in Scope 1 or Scope 2

4. Upstream Transportation and Distribution

5. Waste Generated in Operations

6. Business Travel

7. Employee Commuting

8. Upstream Leased Assets.

Downstream emissions

9. Downstream Transportation and Distribution

10. Processing of Sold Products

11. Use of Sold Products

12. End-of-Life Treatment of Sold Products

13. Downstream Leased Assets

14. Franchises

15. Investments

2050Today’s inventory includes GHG emissions under the operational control of its International Geneva based members. In other words, only operations realized or financed by the institution based in international Geneva are covered. 2050Today’s inventory includes all Scope 1, Scope 2 and Scope 3 GHG emissions. Reported Scope 3 GHG emissions are selected on the basis of their relevance for the institutions’ activities and are therefore not exhaustive. Scope 1, scope 2, and scope 3 are mutually exclusive for the reporting institution, such that there is no double counting of emissions between the scopes. 

Considering the nature of the institutions within the 2050Today membership, we selected the most relevant indicators from the categories mentioned below to help them understand their full value chain emissions impact in order to focus efforts where 2050Today members can have the greatest impact.

2050Today GHG inventory boundaries

Greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions categories

Energy & Water
Energy and water category takes into account the amount of the consumed electricity produced and purchased by the institution. The energy consumed to heat and/or cool the institution’s building area and consumed water are included as well.
Mobility takes into consideration business travels and commuting (on a survey basis).
This sector includes indicators on the consumption of food and drink items offered by the institution. It includes food and drinks provided at the institution’s cafeteria and/or during in-house events.
Purchased equipment
The perimeter of this sector include emissions of new office equipment, new mobility equipment (vehicles) and construction materials.
The perimeter of the 2050Today waste inventory is set to waste production from facilities and internal operations of the institution during the reported year.

Emission Factors

Each category includes several indicators allowing to define a specific inventory for the carbon footprint measurement. Each indicator is multiplied by its associated emission factor in order to estimate corresponding GHG emissions. The factors are based on the full Life Cycle Assessment of goods and services and they take into consideration the associated emissions accordingly. For purchased goods, the factors take into consideration the production. The use and end of life emissions are measured separately and subsequently. 

The emission factors are regularly updated and are catalogued according to the usage year. Due to this regular update, differences can appear when comparing similar reported values. In case of major update for emission factors, a note indicates the change in the footprint report for the specific year. 

Carbon Footprint Scientific Committee

To ensure the reliability, the accuracy and a recurrent updating of the carbon footprint assessment, 2050Today is advised by an international Carbon Footprint Scientific Committee composed of GHG evaluation experts representing specialized and recognized institutions.

The main role of the scientific committee is to review once a year 2050Today’s methodology for measuring, calculating, and accounting for greenhouse gases and to confirm that it is consistent with standard carbon footprints practice and complies with the principles of the GHG Protocol.


Andrea de Bono
Head of Data & Information Sustainability Unit - GRID Geneva
Wee Kean Fong
National & Subnational Standards Director, Greenhouse Gas Protocol - World Resource Institute – WRI
Abdallah Mokssit
Secretary General - Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change – IPCC
Aurore Nembrini
Head of Sustainability Operations and Nutrition, Sustainability Team, Vice-Presidency for responsible Transformation - EPFL
Elliot Romano
Senior Scientist, Institute for Environmental Sciences -University of Geneva – UNIGE
Carl Vadenbo
Project Manager - Ecoinvent Association
Dominic Waughray
Executive Vice President - World Business Council for Sustainable Development – WBCSD

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