Category: National governments, Emission inventories

Driving emission reductions through the public sector supply chain: Scope 3 emissions

Aether contributed to the analysis of procurement (Scope 3) emissions reporting in the Scottish public sector. The research aimed to demonstrate approaches and tools available to Scottish public bodies. The aim was to understand and report their supply chain emissions, providing options for action to improve supply chain reporting across the public sector.

The project was led by Sustainable Procurement Ltd with Aether providing technical analysis of data tools and calculators.

The challenge

The purchase of goods, services and works can account for more than 70% of a public body’s overall greenhouse gas emissions. These are referred to as ‘indirect scope 3 emissions’. Currently there is no standardised tool or reporting system for indirect scope 3 emissions in Scotland and many public sector bodies are challenged on how best to quantify and report on this significant emission category. 

The solution

The goal of this research was to provide evidence for practical approaches and tools that public bodies can use to better understand and thereby reduce their indirect scope 3 emissions.  The project had a focus on engagement with public bodies to understand the needs of the publci sector authorities and to understand the available supply chain emission methodologies currently used. This engagement exercise included 72 public bodies, 67 suppliers and a review of 75 relevant supply chain emissions and related methodologies and tools.

A further review of wider scope 3 emission reporting tools was conducted alongside the engagement to develop a list of actions for the Scottish Government, public bodies and procurement centres of expertise to better improve and align scope 3 emissions reporting.  

The result

The published report documents the findings of an impartial review of Scottish public sector scope 3 emissions reporting and a list of actions for development including improving currently available guidance on existing tools and methodologies, working collaboratively with suppliers and the practicality of developing a centralised portal to minimise reporting burden.

Summary of Findings
  • Spend-based methodologies, which estimate emissions based on the financial value of goods and services, are the most commonly used but tend to focus only on lowering spend rather than reducing emissions and do not provide sufficient detail on emissions throughout the supply chain;
  • Public bodies rely on spend-based methodologies due to limited availability of supply chain emission data, and lacking time or resources to implement other models;
  • Public bodies are increasingly seeking emissions data from suppliers to help with more detailed understanding of emissions;
  • Tools used range from free to very costly. Some public bodies may seek to offset he cost by using the data to identify cost savings, which may also result in emissions reduction;
  • A better understanding of supply chain methodologies and tools, and their limitations would be beneficial to some public bodies; and
  • Challenges faced by suppliers include how to assess and reduce their emissions, and public body requirements, which may include reporting of their emissions into multiple portals or systems.

The full report can be found here

See all case studies

Katie King


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