The ifeu has been providing consulting services on environmental balances for the business sector for many years. Corporate environmental balances include the analysis and quantification of the environmental impacts of business activities and consider a number of relevant environmental impact categories. However, climate change has been the key priority in recent years due to its global and irreversible effects, and there is considerable public interest in the required substantial reductions of greenhouse gas emissions.
For a long time, the media portrayed major summits such as the UN Climate Change Conferences, and thus climate change mitigation as the primary responsibility of nation states. More recently, there have been efforts to oblige individual businesses to engage in climate change mitigation due to the fact that the majority of anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions in industrialised countries with a market economy structure arise from corporate sources. However, all acceptance of responsibility is based on a clear understanding of the consequences of actions. For this purpose, many companies work with corporate carbon footprints that allow the analysis and quantification of the impacts of corporate activities.
Several years ago, most companies solely considered direct emissions of their own specific activities (scope 1), and the emissions from the electricity consumption associated with these (scope 2). Nowadays, it is more and more common for businesses to accept the challenge of including all relevant emissions along the entire value chain (scope 3). The consideration of these indirect emissions is vital for a transparent communication with stakeholders with diverse expectations, particularly for processing businesses and the finance and trade sector. Thus, suspicions of greenwashing may be avoided.
The calculation of a corporate carbon footprint is only the first step, the characterisation of the status quo. Based on the outcome, specific reduction targets as a contribution to climate change mitigation should be identified.
In addition to expectations of society in general and consumers, politics, investors and well-known environmental NGOs in particular, a number of additional specific drivers influence corporate carbon footprinting: