For CSR professionals


Calculating and reporting emissions of CO2 help make a company’s impact on climate change visible, making it easier to set reduction targets.

Reporting progress first requires a baseline to be set, which is where CO2 reports from DSV can help you. As CO2 emissions mostly result from burning fossil fuels, there are typically financial benefits to be gained by reducing fuel consumption, which means that reducing emissions is related to reducing costs.

Climate impact and data – the concept of scopes

The GHG Protocol ( divides CO2 emissions in direct and indirect emissions.

  • Direct emissions are caused by sources controlled and owned by the company.
  • Indirect emissions are caused as a consequence of a company’s activity by sources that are not owned by the company.

The GHG Protocol further divides CO2 emissions into three scopes:

  • Scope 1 includes all direct GHG emissions from sources owned by a company.
    Companies register emissions related to the burning of fossil fuels at production sites and by transport vehicles owned or leased by the company.
  • Scope 2 covers the indirect emission of GHG from energy purchases.
    The figures for energy consumption, such as electricity or heating, are converted to GHG emissions using an agreed conversion factor that varies by location around the world.
  • Scope 3 covers all other indirect GHG emissions that are not mentioned in Scope 2.

Also known as value chain emissions, Scope 3 is an optional reporting category, although it can be a major component of overall GHG emissions for some industries. Scope 3 emissions include emissions from subcontractors, transport of goods, waste treatment, transportation used by company employees, the extraction and production of purchased inputs other than electricity, and emissions caused when goods which have been produced are subsequently used.

The latter can be important for automobile manufacturers, for example, whose footprint may be significantly impacted by the efficiency of the cars they manufacture. Scope 3 emissions often represent the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions, and in some cases they can account for up to 90% of the total carbon impact.

DSV’s emission calculator helps by measuring that part of your scope 3 emissions accounted for by the transports you have had undertaken by us. 

The diagram below shows our suggested steps for scoping your CO2 emissions.

Scoping your Carbon emissions

Gathering information and calculating your emissions

It is important to know your baseline for measuring CO2 emissions in order to identify potential efficiency gains and implement the necessary carbon efficiency measures. Your baseline is your starting year for calculating and measuring your CO2 emissions.

Information about scope 1 and scope 2 emissions are often already available within your company. For example, invoices for electricity list the number of kWh used, invoices for water the m3 of water consumed and company fuel cards show the amount of fuel purchased.

Scope 1 and 2 emissions are frequently added together to give an idea of a company's total greenhouse gas footprint. This is usually a good starting point for comparison between companies in similar industries and of similar size, as it accounts for the company's energy intensity (scope 2) and direct GHG impact (scope 1). While not a perfect measure, it is ideal for comparison because of the standards set out by the GHG Protocol.

As scope 3 emissions cover all your value chain emissions it is often difficult to get the full picture and you will need to start with any reliable data available. The DSV CO2 emission calculator helps you to determine our part of your scope 3 emissions easily, as it gives the emissions caused by transporting goods by DSV.

To help you create a baseline, DSV automatically calculates all CO2 emissions caused by sea, air and road transport activities. Our CO2 emission calculator tool is based on the EN16258 reporting standard.

Setting targets for reductions

There are many different ways to reduce CO2 emissions. First you need to define your targets clearly and set reasonable goals.

In most cases, the best place to start reducing is in your production chain or your own energy consumption, where you will in all likelihood find potential savings.

In addition, there can be plenty of solid business cases in the following areas:

  • Raw materials
  • Waste
  • Suppliers
  • CO2-neutral electricity and heating
  • Transport

GHG targets can be defined in three main ways:

  1. An absolute target for reduction
  2. An intensity-based target for reduction
  3. A process related target for reduction

Broadly speaking, the first two are quantitative targets. They express a reduction over time of a specified amount of GHG emissions, the unit typically being tonnes of CO2e or a percentage reduction.
The third is qualitative, typically describing how to achieve reductions. For example, collaboration with customers or suppliers.

The relevance of particular target types depends on your business. Most important is transparency about why and how you define and calculate your target.

Working with reducing CO2 emissions in all your scopes is good for stakeholder communications.

Create a plan

You need to prepare a plan to ensure your targets are reached.

A plan for reducing scope 1 emissions will focus on optimising processes and equipment emitting GHG at your own sites. These can include, but are not limited to, sources generating heat or electricity, transport equipment owned by your company and production work processes.

For example, a plan for reducing scope 2 GHG emissions might involve screening your buildings for potential energy savings or for switching to sustainable energy sources.

Scope 3 emissions are optional because they cover emissions which are upstream and downstream from you in the supply chain, and are therefore not directly under your control.

That means that it is often too ambitious to conduct a full life-cycle assessment for your products to report on your scope 3 emissions. Instead, you can concentrate on reporting scope 3 emissions in the areas where you have access to transparent, valid and ongoing reliable data. The DSV GHG emission reporting tool can help you to get such data for your transports conducted by DSV.

When planning to reduce your scope 3 emissions for transports you need to be aware of the following: 

  • Make sure you request key emission figures per transport mode
  • The more you can consolidate your transported goods the more you will save on CO2 emissions and costs. Your g/tonne-km figures show how efficiently you run your transport. The lower the g/tonne-km, the more efficient the transport setup
  • A rule of thumb is that the faster your goods need to travel, the greater the emissions
  • The more advance planning you undertake for your shipments, the lower your emissions as there is more time to plan efficient transport


Emission hieracy

Our next figure shows the connection between utilisation of load capacity in a truck and the amount of CO2 emitted per unit of goods transported. A better utilisation of your load capacity will result in lower emissions of CO2 per transport work.

Estimating Carbon emission

The above may sound obvious, but in real life a company typically has a number of customers with different expectations and demands that affect your ability to plan your transports. The larger your production and production sites, the more complex the exercise gets. So is it really worth the effort?

We think it is. If you end up with a better overview of your transport flows and, to take an example, only need two weekly departures of goods instead of three and can move some of your express consignments to groupage road transports then you will not only save CO2 emissions but probably also save on your transport costs.

As always, you are welcome to contact us at DSV if you need help and advice in planning your transport flows.

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