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Emission tracking?

Callum Belch's picture
Project Coordinator SERT

Fresh out of uni undertaking a wide scope of projects to improve the profitability and efficiency of SERT. We offer workforce solutions including recruitment and training in a wide range of...

  • Member since 2021
  • 3 items added with 731 views
  • Jul 19, 2021 4:00 pm GMT

What is the best way (Free/Low cost) to track the emissions produced by a company? Online research only yields a paid service. 

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Best Answer

Hi Callum,

it is not easy to do this calculation precisely, but with the Pareto Rule (80/20) you can come a long way.

Firstly, CO2 can come from a number of sources, among which for example the footprint that is related with the products and raw materials that are coming into the company. Another emission source is that there are other greenhouse gases (beyond CO2) that might be related to the activity of the company, which should be calculated with its specific multiplication factor. Maybe it is a product that decays or a chemical transformation that produced one of the six official greenhouse gases or you work with refrigeration gases.

Finally (third) there is the energy consumption of the company (electricity, fuel, ...) that can be converted in a CO2 amount. For example in Italy, I remember that 1 kWh of grid electricity comes from (national average) 2.6 kWh of primary (fuel) energy, so you need to find the CO2 emission number of that fuel mix in the power plants for your calculation. Also miles, driven for the company's activity, must be included in the energy related CO2 emissions. There may be still other energy uses.

My suggestion would be to start with the energy consumption (this is my area, where I feel most at ease). In that way, group all energy streams that are similar and find the total amount for each of them. It might be gallons for transport, cubic feet for natural gas and kWh for electrical energy. Then you find the multiplication factor (the amount of CO2 for each unit of these energy streams) and multiply. The sum of all the multiplications is the CO2 emission equivalent for the energy consumption.

Please tell me if this helps you.


Callum Belch's picture
Callum Belch on Jul 22, 2021

Hi Norbert,

Most helpful, thank you! I think I was overwhelmed trying to consider all the scopes but your suggestion has given me a great starting point. I had not heard of the Pareto Rule either and believe that will help, especially when considering all contractors working for us!

Thanks again,


Hi Callum,

Two resources:

The first is a recent post that describes an emerging technology that will be publicly available in a few years.  This is briefly described and linked below. Note that the primary technology used (hyperspectral imaging spectrometer) can tract a wide range of emissions.

Damn Satellite: It was just three years ago. Jerry Brown was in his second Governorship, and was in a running battle with the then president (I forget his name).

California Gov. Jerry Brown started the week by signing a pair of actions to get his state to use nothing but electric power drawn from green sources like wind and solar by 2045. He ended the week Friday with a surprise: The state would launch its “own damn satellite” to track down greenhouse gas emitters who fuel global warming.

“In California, with science under attack, in fact we’re under attack by a lot of people, including Donald Trump. But the climate threat still keeps growing,” Brown told delegates at Moscone Convention Center, near the city’s financial district. “With science still under attack, we’re going to launch our own satellite, our own damn satellite, to figure out where the pollution is.”

Now California and other like-minded organizations have put together a consortium to launch our “damn satellite,” and this includes funding. The program is called Carbon Mapper.

"Carbon Mapper will help overcome these technological barriers and enable accelerated action by making high emitting methane and CO2 sources publicly visible and at the facility level quickly and persistently. The data collected by the Carbon Mapper constellation of satellites will provide more complete, precise, and timely measurement of point source methane and CO2 emissions as well as 25+ other environmental indicators."

The post linked below provides a summary of this program.

The second is a post that I have scheduled for Sep 9. It is called "Honest Accounting", and I will point you at the site of the consortium it reviews.



Bob Meinetz's picture
Bob Meinetz on Jul 24, 2021

John, as I mentioned in your earlier post:

Carbon Mapper is financed by two entities with substantial financial interests in under-reporting carbon emissions from natural gas in California: Rocky Mountain Institute and Bloomberg Philanthropies. Both are shadow organizations with 1) lucrative consulting contracts with multinational oil companies, or 2) $billions of investments in natural gas.

Please. That's why we rely on impartial government organizations (NOAA) for accurate satellite data - and why Michael Bloomberg, Chevron, and Jerry Brown use their own damn satellite.

"The first is a recent post that describes an emerging technology that will be publicly available in a few years."

Wonderful - a new green technology "that will be publicly available in a few years." Let's wait a few years until it is publicly available, so we can verify this private technology isn't generating data that only benefits private interests. Make sense?

Callum, there is no reliable way to track a company's carbon emissions. That's the problem - mendacity will always be less costly than reductions.

Leave It In The Ground.

Roger Arnold's picture
Roger Arnold on Jul 21, 2021

Although Bob and I are in agreement about many things, we are in sharp disagreement about this. It is society's job to make sure that mendacity is a high risk and potentially disastrous game strategy. Because if it's allowed to become something that companies or individuals can routinely expect to get away with, then civilization dies. We enter a steep downward spiral of spreading mistrust and paralysis.

The particular focus of our disagreement is CCS. Bob feels that if we adopt a price on carbon emissions, then companies will be able to avoid paying it simply by claiming they've implemented CCS and have no atmospheric carbon emissions. And that regulators will have to take them at their word, because CO2 is a colorless, odorless gas. Nobody can tell whether it's really being sequestered, or just vented to the atmosphere.

I'm sure that's not how Bob would put it. But it remains the case -- in my opinion -- that if our ability to monitor and regulate emissions were as impotent as Bob believes, then the game is already over. Mad Max awaits. 

Bob Meinetz's picture
Bob Meinetz on Jul 22, 2021

That's pretty much how Bob would put it, Roger, but I don't believe our ability to monitor and regulate PM 2.5, or methane, or sulfur dioxide, or oxides of nitrogen, is impotent. And excluding PM 2.5, those gases are invisible too.

CO2 is a different story. Although its concentration can be measured accurately with infrared sensors in a controlled environment, when released outdoors on a windy night? Not a chance. Over the course of several such nights, an oil company could void an entire year's worth of collected CO2 then start from scratch - and no one would know the difference. Salt caverns are porous - the company would simply say CO2 was being absorbed.
3% of methane production is leaked into the environment, and methane has a distinctive infrared signature. We can't even pinpoint the location of methane leaks, much less stop them.

In general, it's a safe bet that any technology supported by oil companies will put profits first, and the environment dead last. Oil companies support CCS because it can be easily circumvented; they support renewables because the market share of wind and solar are limited by nature. Who wouldn't want a "competitor" that is routinely put out of business by something as predictable the rotation of the Earth? If that's not a sure bet, I don't know what is.
A price on carbon and a price on carbon emissions are two different approaches. I support a revenue-neutral price on carbon, charged at the port of entry, at the wellhead, or the mineshaft - that's easy to detect and measure. No company can avoid paying it - that's exactly why we don't have one in the U.S., and probably never will.
*A Mad Max dystopia would be tolerable, but just don't make me watch the movie.

Callum Belch's picture
Callum Belch on Jul 22, 2021

I agree Roger, while estimates can be unreliable I believe if you are not part of the solution... then you are part of the problem. Especially if everyone omits the truth just to save money as it will come to light eventually with potential higher costs- hopefully well before a Mad Max style change where currency would be irrelevant! That being said you are onto something Bob... leave the fossil fuels in the ground! 

CDP is what comes to mind. The Science based targets initiative and Climate Neutral will also likely have useful resources, tools, or people to point in the right direction.

Most Fortune 500 companies report their emissions to CDP and that information is usually public.  Mostly Scope 1 and Scope 2 (which you can think of as emissions from operations).


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