Updated Emissions Factors: What You Need to Know - Carbon Responsible
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Updated Emissions Factors: What You Need to Know

Our Carbon Accounting Specialist, Emma has put together a useful reminder for companies reporting on their emissions.

Emma from Carbon Responsible's Team

Emma Baldassari

Carbon Accounting Specialist

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Downing Street, London

Yesterday (8th July 2024) the UK’s Department for Energy Security and Net Zero (DESNZ) released updated emissions factors for 2024 emissions reporting.

While many factors remain stable, some significant changes could impact company emissions trends. Changes in conversion factors are typically due to:

  • Actual changes in fuel mixes (e.g., electricity) or system efficiency (e.g., water supply and treatment).
  • Different methodologies for obtaining factors (e.g., materials like plastics and paper).
  • Correction of errors in past factors (e.g., waste disposal).

Companies might see changes in their emissions due to change in conversion factors, even if their operations and data quality and completeness remain consistent. This might affect their progression towards their emission reduction targets.

How should companies and their carbon accounting partners handle this?

Following the UK Government guidelines, the most updated conversion factors should be used. However, sometimes it is clear that changes in factors might not reflect changes in emissions. Here at Carbon Responsible, we use the latest factors to comply with reporting framework recommendations and provide detailed analysis to explain major changes in emissions, whether due to activity data or new factors. If past emission factor errors significantly impact a company’s baseline emissions, we correct these errors to ensure accurate baseline analysis.

Examples of Significant Changes:

  • Air Travel Emissions Factors
    Air travel emission factors are calculated by dividing the total emissions per km of an average passenger flight by the number of passengers on the plane. Since it takes time to collect and analyse data on average occupancy rates, these emission factors are often based on data from previous years. The 2023 and 2024 aviation emission factors use occupancy rate data from 2021, when most flights were often half empty due to Covid-19 travel restrictions. As a result, the emissions per passenger for 2023 and 2024 are about 50% higher compared to the 2021 and 2022 factors, which were based on pre-Covid occupancy rates. This increase does not reflect a real change in emissions per passenger. In fact, emissions per passenger should be lower now as flights are likely fuller following the relaxation of Covid-19 restrictions.
  • Waste Disposal Emissions Factors
    2024 factors are 70% lower than 2023 due to an error correction. Companies must decide whether to correct previous emissions if the error materially affects their reports, following SBTi’s guidelines for baseline recalculation.

If your company uses hybrid/electric vehicles or has significant material use emissions, you might want to have a look.

For more information on major changes in UK conversion factors, please visit 2024 Greenhouse Gas Conversion Factors – Major Changes.

Of course, if you have any concerns about your companys’ emissions reporting and what regulations you need to adhere to, please get in touch with our team.

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