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June 17, 2021

Question Time: This months most asked questions answered

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Aleena Dewji

Pathzero Question Time is a monthly resource where our in-house experts answer your recently submitted carbon and sustainability related questions. With lots of buzzwords, new technology, and ambiguity within the sustainability industry, it can hard to gain access to information that you know is technically correct and reliable. With Pathzero question time we aim to bridge the knowledge gap between consultants, business owners, and consumers. 

Our submission page enables climate champions and aspiring climate champions to enter in their questions. These questions can range from general inquiries about the carbon industry to specific and technical questions. To learn more about Pathzero Question Time and to submit your question, click here.

Answering your questions this month is Aleena Dewji, the Senior Carbon and Sustainability Specialist at Pathzero. Here are your answers:

1.  When is the best time to complete a carbon report?

Calculating your organisation's carbon emissions and producing a carbon report can be done anytime throughout the year; however, Pathzero recommends completing your carbon report at the end of your reporting year (either calendar or financial). This is due to a number of reasons including;

  • Much of the data required for financial reporting is also used for when completing an emissions inventory. As data will have already been collected and available, doing both reports around the same time is an efficient way to save time and money.
  • The data derived from carbon reports are useful sources of information to set goals for the following reporting year. This allows organisations to create a pathway for environmental initiatives to be undertaken and tracked on a yearly basis.
  • Having tangible evidence of your sustainability performance is great for internal tracking and benchmarking.

We have a blog that speaks more on this topic, click here to read. 

2. What are scope 3 emissions, and what exactly must I do and include to measure them?

Scope 3 emissions are indirect emissions that occur in a company's corporate value chain. Unlike scope 1 and scope 2 emissions, scope 3 emissions are outside the operational control of the organisation. Common examples include: business travel of employees (flights, train, and vehicles not owned by the company), purchase of raw goods, and employee commuting. For further explanation on scopes, read this blog.

Scope 3 emissions need to be included in your emissions boundary if you wish to be carbon neutral certified or achieve net zero emissions. The Pathzero carbon management platform has guidelines to ensure that all relevant scope 3 emission sources are included in an inventory. This is completed through the following relevance test. If two of the following five criteria are met by your organisation, this emission source must be included in your emissions boundary.

  1. The emissions from a particular source are likely to be large relative to the organisation’s electricity, stationary energy and fuel emissions.
  2. The emissions from a particular source contribute to the organisation’s greenhouse gas risk exposure.
  3. The emissions from a particular source are deemed relevant by key stakeholders.
  4. The responsible organisation could influence emissions reduction from a particular source.
  5. The emissions are from outsourced activities previously undertaken within the organisation’s boundary, or from outsourced activities typically undertaken within the boundary for comparable organisations.

You may notice that some scope 3 emission sources may not always apply on an annual basis. For example, if your organisation has purchased IT equipment in the previous financial year and no new equipment was purchased in this financial year, your emissions for this source would be zero. However, it is always best to include any emission sources that are relevant, even if these may not be quantified in the current reporting year. 

3. What is a carbon credit? How is it different from carbon offsets?

Carbon credits are created by projects that are reducing, removing, or avoiding greenhouse gas emissions. These reductions, removals and avoidances are measured in tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (tCO2-e). Under specific government and international programs, for each tonne CO2-e that is reduced, a carbon credit can be created. One carbon credit represents the reduction of one tCO2-e.

Carbon credits are also sometimes referred to as "Carbon Offsets" as a carbon credit can be used to offset an organisation's measured emissions. Both terms are often used interchangeably. 

4. Do I need to be or engage a sustainability expert to take climate action?

A common barrier for organisations to start their own environmental journey is the stigma that without having or employing an environmental expert, undergoing meaningful climate action is unachievable. This is far from the truth. Having access to the right information and from the right sources to build knowledge and understanding on carbon management in conjunction with the use of a guided platform, like Pathzero, that also provides you access to in-house consultants, enables any individual and business to start their own carbon journey.

Pathzero's mission is to empower everyone to take action by providing them with all the information, tools, and support they need to create a climate action plan that is tailored to them. Click here to learn more.

Want your questions answered? Head to our submission page to enter your questions.

Visit the submission page

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