Greenhouse gasses: what does control look like at your company?

How does your company control greenhouse gasses? Read this article and find answers to all of your questions about this topic.

Do you know everything you need to about greenhouse gasses (GHGs)? How does your company control these gasses? How are greenhouse gases and ESG related? Read the text below and find answers to all of your questions about this topic.

The last 10 years have shown that climate change is happening now and it is probably going to get much worse. Take a look at some of the evidence found by Nasa:

  • The world’s average surface temperature has risen by about 1°C since the late nineteenth century;
  • The last seven hottest years on record all occurred after 2015, with the top three being: 2016, 2019 and 2020;
  • Global sea levels have rose by around 20 centimeters in the last century. The rate for the last two decades is, however, two times the rate in the last century and rising slightly more with each year;
  • The sheets of ice covering Greenland and Antarctica have receded sharply. Data show that Greenland lost an average of 279 billion metric tons of ice each year from 1993 to 2019, while Antarctica lost around 148 billion metric tons of ice per year;
  • Since the start of the Industrial Revolution, the acidity of the oceans’ surface water has increased by around 30%.

Many of these findings are due largely to higher carbon dioxide emissions in the atmosphere and to other human activities. We experience the consequences of each one of these pieces of evidence in our daily lives, with more and more frequent catastrophic events and natural disasters.

Greenhouse gasses

Greenhouse gasses are gasses that can hold in heat. They were given this name because of their similarity to a greenhouse. A greenhouse is a space enclosed with transparent glass panels that let sunlight in. This light, in turn, creates heat, and because it is entirely enclosed, the big catch with a greenhouse is that it doesn’t let this heat escape.

This is precisely how greenhouse gasses act. They allow sunlight to pass through the atmosphere, but prevent the heat from the sunlight to leave the atmosphere. Generally speaking, greenhouse gasses are a good thing. Without them, our planet would be very cold and life as we know it would not exist. Yet anything in excess can be bad. The amount of GHGs released today by activities carried out by humans vastly outpaces the amount released naturally as well as the planet’s capability to absorb them.

Emissions sources for these gasses vary from country to country and can even be different among the same country’s regions. However, the main ones are generally those mentioned below:

ESG and greenhouse gasses

This isn’t the first time we’ve heard or read about “controlling or even reducing greenhouse gasses.” This is a topic that has become a global concern, year after year, discussed at major international conferences involving countries and companies. But you’ve probably noticed that this topic has become an even hotter topic in the last decade. It’s no surprise that organizations are facing growing pressure – from investors, defense groups, politicians, consumers and even corporate leaders – to lower GHG emissions in their operations and in their supply and distribution chains.

According to the Harvard Business Review, around 90% of the companies listed on the S&P 500 (the world’s 500 largest companies, listed and domiciled with the biggest stock markets in the U.S.A., the NYSE and Nasdaq) are now issuing some type of environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG) report, which almost always includes an estimate of the company’s GHG emissions.

The bad news is that we are already in the midst of a climate crisis. This means that even if companies were to bring their GHGs down to zero tomorrow, the carbon dioxide already in the atmosphere would remain there for another 300 to 1,000 years. It’s too late to stop this warming, but reducing emissions would delay this rise and help to prevent future catastrophes.

The problem is that estimating GHG emissions is not as simple as analyzing the company’s balance sheet for the last year. Calculations use published emissions factors that are specific to individual industrial activities and processes.

Moreover, while federal GHG reporting programs usually look at direct sources of emissions in relation to fuel production and combustion, when reporting GHGs as part of an ESG program, indirect emissions are generally considered upstream and downstream in the supply chain, as are emissions financed in a portfolio.

GHG Protocol

In fact, ESG reports, also known as sustainability reports, have become indispensable for publicly traded companies that want recognition as ESG investments. Nevertheless, measurement methodologies and reports are still far from standard. As a result, few ESG reports are significantly involved with the moral compensations within these three pillars and with how the company benefits. In addition, organizations also selectively present metrics that portray them in a favorable light, which leads to a general perception that ESG reports are inundated with greenwashing.

When it comes specifically to controlling greenhouse gas emissions, the Greenhouse Gas Protocol is one big initiative created to work for standardization, encouraging publication of inventories and greater transparency. Better known as GHG Protocol, this program establishes standardized and wide-ranging global structures for measuring and managing GHG emissions in public and private sector operations, value chains and mitigation actions. The GHG Protocol establishes six basic steps in performing corporate inventories:

  • Organizational boundaries depend on a company’s structure and its relationship with all stakeholders. Company operations can have different legal and organizational structures. These include fully-owned operations, incorporated and unincorporated joint ventures, subsidiaries and more;
  • While operational boundaries are determined by identifying GHG emissions associated with the company’s operations that are included within organizational boundaries. These emissions should be classified as direct or indirect.

To help outline direct and indirect sources of emissions, improve transparency and be useful to different types of organizations, different types of climate polices and business objectives, three scopes were established for registering and reporting on GHGs:

  • Next, each company will survey their emissions data according to the specificities of their operations and their GHG sources. This stage of the process should follow the definition of scopes done in the first step.
  • The GHG Protocol website has different tools, split into cross-sector categories (stationary combustion, mobile combustion, HFC use and uncertainty in measurements and estimates) and well as sector-specific ones (aluminum, iron and steel, cement, oil and gas, pulp and paper, administrative companies, and more). These tools have step-by-step instructions for application and are optional to use.
  • The last task in the inventory is the creation of a report, for which there are thoroughly defined methodologies in both the GHG Protocol and in ABNT ISO/TR 14069:2015.

Technology and GHG inventory

As already mentioned, greenhouse gas emissions data are spread across different departments, sites and geographic regions. Consolidating and converting data into actionable insights to help reduce emissions is also a huge challenge.

To do this, a tool can be used to help companies eliminate human error, perform effective analyses of scenarios and manage their GHG emissions at every level.

SoftExpert ESG enables everything from efficient data compilation to publish sustainability reports to optimization and automation of processes and operations that directly contribute to ESG results. Dashboards make it possible for companies to access up-to-date information on the status of all activities and performance indicators related to these three pillars.

This solution even makes the process of carrying out the GHG emissions inventory more simple. See some of the benefits below:

  • Create personalized forms that comply with your preferred calculation methodology;
  • Easily enter formulas according to your chosen methodology and automatically calculate the total carbon equivalent for each emission source;
  • Monitor the entire inventory management process, knowing where and with whom the process is now;
  • Using customized graphs and dashboards, monitor data entered into the inventory in real time;
  • Associate risks, nonconformance reports and action plans to emissions reporting.

Are you interested in our solution? Contact our team of specialists now!

I want to learn about SoftExpert ESG



Camilla Christino


Camilla Christino

Business Analyst at SoftExpert, completed a Bachelor's in Food Engineering at Instituto Mauá de Tecnologia. She has solid experience in the quality area in the food industries with a focus on monitoring and adapting internal and external auditing processes, documentation of the quality management system (ISO 9001, FSSC 22000, ISO / IEC 17025), Quality Control, Regulatory Affairs, GMP, HACCP and Food Chemical Codex (FCC). She is also certified as a leading auditor in the ISO 9001: 2015.

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