Decarbonization 101
Accounting for Decarbonization

Carbon Accounting Through the Lens of Decarbonization

May 28, 2024
[Read Time]


This lesson emphasizes the importance of using high-quality, granular data for accurate carbon accounting to facilitate actionable decarbonization strategies, highlighting the limitations of relying solely on spend-based estimations.

Carbon Accounting is complex in itself, but measuring your organization's footprint to enable decarbonization takes it to the next level. If it's your first time measuring your organization's carbon footprint, you may use readily available data, such as spend data, to estimate emissions. While this is easily accessible data, the emission estimates provided may not lead to valuable decarbonization insights. Using high-quality, granular data, such as fuel data or even data directly from your supplier, is the best way to capture an accurate carbon footprint and create an actionable decarbonization plan. The more accurate emission calculations are, the better insights into decarbonization they can provide. 

Quadial corporate carbon accounting example

Example: Quadial Inc wants to account for its emissions in a way that provides actionable insights for its decarbonization strategy. They have accounted for their previous year's emissions, where scope 3 category 1 purchased goods and services was their highest emitting category. Knowing their publicly set goal of 60% emission reduction by 2050, they would need to take action to reduce their emissions. Since Quadial Inc used emission data from their suppliers about each product purchased, they got the most granular and accurate emission estimations. In their early stages of carbon accounting, they used their purchase records to estimate emissions based on the amount spent on products. This is called the spend-based method. Don’t worry we will cover the importance of calculation methods in detail in Lesson 4! This method provides a baseline but doesn’t enable Quadial Inc to make decarbonization decisions because the only way to reduce emissions using this method is to spend less.

Up Next
Using Internal Controls to Measure and Report Reliable, Credible, and Transparent GHG Emissions Data
This lesson underscores the importance of establishing internal controls, governance structures, and best practices for accurate and transparent carbon accounting, providing essential guidance for organizations preparing for climate disclosure and effective carbon reduction strategies.