Alessia Falsarone, Executive in Residence, Adjunct Faculty, Circular Economy and Sustainable Business, The University of Chicago shares her insights ahead of Climate Risk USA

Managing extensive data and reporting requirements of Scope 3

Alessia FalsaroneExecutive in Residence, Adjunct Faculty, Circular Economy and Sustainable Business, The University of Chicago

Below is an insight into what can be expected from Alessia’s session at Climate Risk USA 2023.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the thought leader as an individual and are not attributed to CeFPro or any particular organization.

How can we assess the availability of data from the supply and customer chain and use this towards reporting requirements of Scope 3?

One of the key challenges in managing Scope 3 emissions is accessing reliable data from various stakeholders within the supply and customer chain. To assess data availability, businesses can adopt several strategies:

  • Collaboration and engagement: Engaging with suppliers, customers, and other relevant stakeholders is essential for understanding their data collection capabilities. Establishing strong relationships with these partners can foster transparency and facilitate data sharing.
  • Standardization: Encouraging the adoption of standardized reporting frameworks and metrics across the value chain can simplify data collection efforts. Initiatives like the Greenhouse Gas Protocol’s Scope 3 Standard provide guidelines for consistent measurement and reporting.
  • Data verification: Implementing robust verification processes can help ensure the accuracy and reliability of reported data. Independent third party audits or certifications can enhance trust in the reported information.
In what ways can technology be used to obtain accurate and usable Scope 3 data?

Technology plays a crucial role in collecting, analyzing, and managing extensive data related to Scope 3 emissions. Here are some ways technology can be leveraged:

  1. Automated data collection: Utilizing digital tools and platforms can streamline the data collection process. For example, implementing supply chain management systems or customer relationship management software can capture relevant data points automatically.
  2. 2. Internet of Things (IoT): IoT devices can be deployed to monitor energy consumption, transportation emissions, and other relevant parameters in real time. This data can then be integrated into reporting systems, providing accurate and up-to-date Scope 3 information.
  3. Data analytics and visualization: Advanced analytics tools can help identify patterns, trends, and areas for improvement within the value chain. Visualizing the data through interactive dashboards or reports can enhance understanding and decision-making.
How can firms define ownership and accountability with Scope 3?

Defining ownership and accountability for Scope 3 emissions ensures effective management and reporting. There are specific steps that firms can employ:

  • Clear roles and responsibilities: Assign specific roles and responsibilities to individuals or teams within the organization to oversee Scope 3 emissions. This includes identifying who is responsible for data collection, analysis, reporting, and target setting.
  • Cross-functional collaboration: Foster collaboration between different departments, such as procurement, operations, and sustainability, to ensure a holistic approach to Scope 3 emissions. Encourage regular communication and coordination to align efforts and share knowledge.
  • Performance metrics and incentives: Establish performance metrics related to Scope 3 emissions and integrate them into employee performance evaluations. This creates accountability and incentivizes individuals to contribute to emission reduction efforts actively.
  • Supplier engagement: Engage with suppliers by setting clear expectations regarding their own Scope 3 emissions reporting. Encourage them to establish their own ownership and accountability mechanisms while providing support and guidance where necessary.
What are the operational risks of meeting Scope 3 emissions reporting requirements?  

Meeting Scope 3 emissions reporting requirements can pose several operational risks for organizations. Data availability and accuracy are likely top of mind across sectors, as gathering accurate data from various stakeholders in the value chain can be challenging. Incomplete or unreliable data can lead to inaccurate reporting, which may undermine the credibility of an organization’s sustainability efforts.  The underlying complexity of supply chains is also a prime operational risk in meeting Scope 3 emissions requirements. Organizations with complex supply chains face the risk of incomplete or inconsistent data from suppliers. This can make it difficult to capture the full extent of indirect emissions associated with the value chain.

Lastly, resource constraints within the organization, as collecting, analyzing, and reporting Scope 3 emissions data require dedicated resources in terms of time, personnel, and technology. Organizations may face resource constraints that hinder their ability to meet reporting requirements effectively. Ultimately, each one of these challenges can result in non-compliance with reporting regulations and standards, which in turn can yield reputational damage, legal consequences, and/or financial penalties. Organizations need to stay up-to-date with evolving reporting requirements to mitigate this risk and, simultaneously keep stakeholder expectations in mind. Stakeholders, including customers, investors, and regulators, increasingly expect organizations to disclose and manage their Scope 3 emissions. Failing to meet these expectations can lead to reputational risks and loss of business opportunities.

As we move forward, how can we ensure all companies effectively report Scope 3 emissions?

Ensuring effective reporting of Scope 3 emissions by all companies requires a collaborative and proactive approach. There are a variety of catalysts that are contributing to pushing more organizations in this direction.

First and foremost, standardization. Encouraging the development and adoption of standardized reporting frameworks and guidelines for Scope 3 emissions results in increased transparency and comparability along the supply chain. Moreover, governments can play a crucial role in driving effective reporting by implementing regulations that require companies to disclose their Scope 3 emissions. By making it mandatory, companies are more likely to prioritize and invest in accurate data collection and reporting systems. In addition, the ability of organizations to define their capacity-building and organizational learning milestones is essential. Providing training, resources, and support to companies to enhance their understanding of Scope 3 emissions reporting will be crucial for SMEs. This can include workshops, webinars, and guidance materials that help organizations navigate the complexities of data collection, calculation methodologies, and reporting requirements. Lastly, fostering deeper collaboration between companies and their supply chain partners to ensure comprehensive Scope 3 reporting will translate into encouraging suppliers to disclose their emissions data while also providing support to help them improve their own reporting capabilities. Collaboration platforms or networks can facilitate knowledge sharing and best practices. Let’s not forget that verification and assurance practices have already come a long way in critical supply chains for minerals and materials. As the implementation of verification processes and/or independent third-party audits becomes the norm, increased credibility in the reported information will also support deeper stakeholder trust in a company’s sustainability efforts.