Calculating your carbon footprint can seem complex. But it doesn't have to be that way. We have a secret to share. After advising +500 offices in + 140 countries to calculate their carbon footprint, we can confidently say that no carbon footprint is 100% accurate.
But that's the point. Disclosing your carbon footprint is not just about coming up with a "final number" of total GHG emissions to put into an annual report and forget about until the next year. It's actually an opportunity to put in place a management process to understand and take control of your company's climate impact. The results you get from your calculations can help you make strategic decisions to future-proof your company.
Now that you know you don't have to have a perfect carbon calculation to get useful results, here's five principles to keep in mind to get as close to perfection as possible:
Make this exercise useful for your business. When deciding what emission sources to include in your calculation, identify business activities that you'd like to assess for climate risk and build strategies to improve. Think about the activities that your partners and stakeholders care about and that may be subject to upcoming regulation or changing public expectations.
Ensure data covers the entire reporting year. For the activities you choose to include, make sure to input data that covers the full 12-month period of your reporting year. If data is missing for some months, find ways to estimate or prorate the data to extend it out to the full year.
Be consistent to be comparable. If you want to make credible claims about emission reductions, you need to use a consistent methodology and assumptions each year. Remember, changes can be ok - even good - especially if you are expanding the business activities you are assessing or improving the accuracy of your data. When this happens, explain methodology changes or better yet, go back and adjust past year's calculations to match the new improved methodology.
Keep clear records to disclose and repeat. Be sure to record your data sources, assumptions and methodologies - as well as gaps and exclusions. Being transparent is important to be credible and avoid criticism.
Improve accuracy each time. No carbon footprint is 100% accurate. Make sensible estimates when data is missing. Improve data collection and quality from year to year.
Want support to put these principles into action? Here at Impacti, we've developed a SaaS technology solution designed especially for small and medium businesses to make climate action simple. Sign up now to get instant access or book a demo with our CARBON experts to learn more.