We need carbon accounting to curb our emissions

To reduce carbon emissions, we first need to measure them. Businesses need more robust carbon accounting.

At Soapbox, we get a lot of reader questions every time we send out a Changeletter (which goes out every Wednesday - make sure you're signed up). One of the most common things we hear from you: How do I make a difference at work?

So that’s what we’re going to talk about in this Action Pack. Long answer: there are many many things you can do and you should find your people, make a plan, and take action. Good luck.

Short answer: start with carbon accounting.

If you got bored hearing the word accounting, I’m with you! My promise to you as always is to make this lively and approachable. There will be NO MATH.

Fight climate change in a way that works for you.

💌 Thinking about sustainability can be overwhelming after a busy workday, so we're here to help. Join over 7,000 other busy people and subscribe to Changeletter, a bite-sized action plan that'll take you 3 minutes or less to read every week.
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"The info is always timely, actionable, and never stale." - Aishwarya Borkar, Change.org
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"Making social change always felt so overwhelming until I started reading this newsletter." - Meghan Mehta, Google

What is corporate carbon accounting? What are Scopes?

🎯 Action step 1 of 4: READ — Let's start by looking at a few articles together.

It’s time for a pop quiz. Here are your two questions.

  • Do companies release more direct or indirect emissions? (Direct = carbon emissions from assets the company owns, like buildings and trucks; Indirect = electricity + other stuff related to their value chain like warehouse electrification, business travel, emissions from servers that are rented)

  • What greenhouse gas emissions are companies mandated to report globally?


Before you keep reading, think about the answers.



Think



Keep thinking



Do you have guesses yet?



Ok



⚡👉🏾  Answer time!


Start your action journey by reading this article: “What are Scope 3 Emissions and Why Companies Must Start Reporting Them”.


If you’re feeling lazy (#relatable) or don’t have time today, I’ll give you the basics, but you should put this article on your list.

  1. What is carbon inventory (aka corporate carbon footprint aka carbon accounting)?

    Measurement of an organization’s carbon emissions that contribute to climate change. This footprint theoretically accounts for direct and indirect emissions.


  2. How is this carbon accounting categorized?

    Internationally, we use Scope 1, Scope 2, and Scope 3 to sort these corporate carbon emissions. It’s in the image above, but Scope 1 (direct emissions) is emissions from owned assets, Scope 2 (indirect emissions) is basically electricity usage, and Scope 3 (indirect emissions) is everything else that happens along a company’s operations.


  3. Which Scopes do companies have to report?

    Although this is a global framework, not every country’s companies have to report. There are currently 40~ countries that mandate greenhouse gas reporting. Buuuuut... most of these only require Scope 1 and Scope 2. Also this GHG protocol most of the 40 countries use generally only apply to large corporations.


  4. Who cares about Scope 3? Isn’t it the most indirect Scope?

    Yeah, Scope 3 is all about indirect emissions. The catch: basically anything you rent or lease can count under Scope 3. 💡More than 85% of most companies’ emissions fall under Scope 3! And we’re not measuring it!

〰️ The bottom line: We can’t figure out how to tackle climate change through markets if we’re not measuring it in the first place. We have the tech and tools to track what matters; we just need to do it. More on how YOU can do this in our next two modules!

🏁 Checkpoint: This is the end of action step 1 of 4: READ.

The social cost of carbon isn't getting measured

🎯 Action step 2 of 4: LISTEN — we'll watch a short video or listen to a podcast to further expand on our topic.

If you’re reading this and you work at a company, congratulations! You know at least 1 organization you can ask about measuring greenhouse gases.


For this Carbon Accounting Action Pack, we will show you a three-minute video on the “Social Cost of Carbon”. It’s basically a social event! (Except it’s totally not and it’s a YouTube video, but we can pretend!

Greenhouse gases are hella bringing us down. They’re damaging every aspect of our health and economy. If you’re reading this, we’re on the same page re greenhouse gases being wack.


If organizations are emitting Wack Stuff into the planet, they’re paying for it, right?

Hahahhaahahhahhaahahahhahahha. No.

Currently, greenhouse gases (mainly carbon) are considered an “externality”. Which is fancy economics for “not my problem”. (Source: I have an economics degree.)

In fact, as we learned last week, this carbon is barely being measured, let alone priced. This makes it hard to assess policies’ climate benefits, too. The concept of a “social cost of carbon” addresses this. Watch this 3-min explainer!

You can access the video, transcript, and more facts from the Resources for the Future website.

Let's review:

  • What is the social cost of carbon?

    The social cost of carbon is an estimate, in dollars, of the economic damages that result from each additional ton of greenhouse gas emissions. It puts the effects of climate change into economic terms to help policymakers understand how emissions-related policies affect the economy.

  • How does this actually work?

    The video has a detailed explanation and examples of how this is already being used, so check it out!

Ok! Deep breaths before we head into our ACT module. Come back to this page if you need to.

🏁 Checkpoint: This is the end of action step 2 of 4: LISTEN.

Science-based targets and more actions

🎯 Action step 3 of 4: ACT — Now it's time to do something. Let's go!

IOur worldly desires — marked by our growing global carbon footprint — are getting out of control. IT’S TOO BIG!


And as the age-old wisdom goes: “size matters.”


The past two weeks, we’ve gone over why Carbon Accounting is actually a super sexy thing to talk about. It’s a simple solution just waiting to be implemented! If you’ve been wondering how you can make a meaningful difference against climate change, there’s obviously a bunch you can do, but we all need a baseline.


Whether that’s in our personal lives or at work, it’s time to account ourselves. Today’s ACT just has 3 simple actions — 1 for your personal life, 1 for work, and 1 related to consumer advocacy! Choose one or more and let’s go.

  1. Use your consumer superpowers for good at Climate Neutral (15 sec).

    There are a bazillion certifications popping up to help consumers navigate this ever-changing space, but I really like Climate Neutral’s because it’s rooted in measurement first. Go to their consumer action hub and fill out a 15-second survey. You can also @ your favorite brands to #beclimateneutral on social media! Keep that in your mind’s back pocket as you go about your online life.

  2. Download Joro to start measuring your own footprint (2 min).

    We talked about Scope 1, 2, and 3 emissions in our READ module (long story short — it’s a way of categorizing carbon emissions for large entities like corporations. Scope 3, which is the majority of emissions, DOESN’T EVEN GET MEASURED because it’s ‘indirect’). I like to apply this framework for my own life. What am I measuring? The answer: despite being climate-conscious, I actually wasn’t measuring anything until I downloaded Joro.

    If you don’t want another app on your phone or if it doesn’t support your geography, just pick one thing to measure. If you eat meat and dairy, track how much you consume per week! And see how you can chip away at that number. The biggest individual impacts we can make are cutting out flights, cars, and meat. Pick one!

  3. Get your company to set a science-based target.

    It has literally never been easier to take corporate action. Companies care because if they don’t, it’s hurting business — so let’s use it! Science-based targets show companies how much and how quickly they need to reduce their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions to prevent the worst effects of climate change.

    You can view the companies already taking action here — there’s an option on the same page to set a target. Talk to your company ASAP — just send them the link and ask “hey, can you share more info on our role in this?”

If you're not already talking about these things at work or with your friends/family, that's your simplest talking point. Everything starts with conversation, and now you have some robust action tools to support the discussions you're having!

🏁 Checkpoint: This is the end of action step 3 of 4: ACT.

Understand your country's role in climate change

Before we go any further, it's time for you to pledge your commitment. It takes less than 30 seconds to pledge and we can bother you about it in a friendly way, so we can hold each other accountable. Pledge here!

🎯 Action step 4 of 4: REFLECT — what can you commit to? What fresh perspectives can we look at?

One of the actions we just mentioned was using Joro to start measuring your own emissions. They also have this great article on "the real price of carbon" if you're interested in some extra reading.

Now, it's time to reflect on what you're doing!


When you complete the 30-sec form to record your actions, you’ll see a link to this article that shows us the valuable info we gain when we do measure our emissions.

You can see how your country fares -- are you using more or less carbon than you need? How has this changed over time compared to other countries? How does this relate to colonial history?


It’s so important to look at this stuff on a global scale — it’s clear to see which of us really needs to up the pressure on our officials while also making meaningful individual change!

It’s an interactive graphic so you can look at data through time and see if you’re up or down. Let’s be down together. 🥳That’s it for this Action Pack — take 30 seconds to hold yourself accountable!

🏁 Checkpoint: This is the end of action step 4 of 4: REFLECT.

Check out our membership community for more resources like free weekly events with social justice experts, sustainable product discounts, pre-written email templates, a social impact job board, and in-person hangouts with new friends. Thanks for taking action with Soapbox Project!

Fight climate change in a way that works for you.

💌 Thinking about sustainability can be overwhelming after a busy workday, so we're here to help. Join over 7,000 other busy people and subscribe to Changeletter, a bite-sized action plan that'll take you 3 minutes or less to read every week.
Headshot of Ash Borkar (a woman with glasses and a cardigan)
"The info is always timely, actionable, and never stale." - Aishwarya Borkar, Change.org
Headshot of Meghan Mehta speaking at Google with a microphone in her hand
"Making social change always felt so overwhelming until I started reading this newsletter." - Meghan Mehta, Google

We're ready when you are.

Get our free bite-sized climate action plans before you go!

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