Chapter 3: GHG Protocol Fundamentals

GHG Protocol: A Brief Overview

May 18, 2023
August 30, 2023
[Read Time]
ghg protocol brief overview

Lesson Overview

An Overview

The Greenhouse Gas Protocol is a step-by-step guide for companies and other types of organizations to use in identifying, quantifying and reporting their greenhouse gas emissions.


Arising from a joint initiative between World Resources Initiative and the World Business Council for Sustainable Development, the GHGP first published its Corporate Standard in 2001.

Having a common standard improves the consistency, transparency, and understandability of reported information, making it easier to track and compare progress over time.

World Resources Institute (WRI)

WRI is a global non-profit organization that works with leaders in government, business, and civil society to research, design, and carry out practical solutions that simultaneously improve people’s lives and ensure nature can thrive. WRI focuses on 7 urgent challenges including: Food, Forests, Water, Oceans, Cities, Energy, and Climate. Their mission is “to move human society to live in ways that protect Earth’s environment and its capacity to provide for the needs and aspirations of current and future generations”.

World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD)

WBSCD is the “premier global, CEO-led community of over 200 of the world’s leading sustainable businesses working collectively to accelerate the system transformations needed for a net-zero, nature positive, and more equitable future”. Since 1995, WBCSD has been uniquely positioned to work with member companies along and across value chains to deliver impactful business solutions to the most challenging sustainability issues.


The GHG Protocol was designed for several reasons:

  • Quantify: The GHG Protocol was created to help companies prepare a greenhouse gas inventory — also known as a carbon footprint.
  • Simplify: The GHG Protocol simplifies and reduces the cost of compiling a GHG inventory.
  • Strategize: The GHG Protocol provides businesses with information to build a strategy to manage and reduce GHG emissions.
  • Consistency and Transparency: The protocol increases consistency and transparency in carbon accounting and reporting.
  • Reporting: The GHGP provides information that facilitates participation in both voluntary and mandatory GHG programs.

Five Principles of the GHG Protocol

Carbon accounting is based on a set of principles — just like in financial accounting. The GHG Protocol identifies five principles on which carbon accounting and reporting shall be based:


For an organization’s GHG report to be relevant means that it contains the information that users — both internal and external to the company — need for their decision making.


All relevant emissions sources within the chosen inventory boundary need to be accounted for so that a comprehensive and meaningful inventory is compiled. Any specific exclusions must be disclosed and justified.


The consistent application of accounting approaches, inventory boundary, and calculation methods is essential to producing an apples-to-apples comparison of GHG emissions over time and across operations.


Information must be recorded and analyzed in a way that enables internal and external stakeholders to attest to its credibility. A “transparent” report will provide a clear understanding of the issues in the context of the reporting company and a meaningful assessment of performance.


Data should be representative to enable users to make decisions with reasonable assurance that the reported information is credible.

The primary function of the five principles is to guide the implementation of the GHG Protocol, particularly in situations where application of the standard might be ambiguous.

The application of these five principles helps ensure that the resulting greenhouse gas inventory is a fair and accurate representation of the company’s greenhouse gas emissions.

No items found.
No items found.

Built for Climate Disclosure

See the Persefoni platform for carbon accounting and climate disclosure in action.