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How do you measure your carbon emissions?

The Scottish Government has committed to achieving net zero emissions by 2045 and has set us all on a journey towards becoming a net zero nation. A key part of this journey is to establish where we are now, by measuring our carbon emissions.  

This page explains the key concepts and ideas of measuring carbon emissions and how to start measuring your own. 

1. Measuring emissions

Measuring is one of the five pathways of the Glasgow Declaration of Climate Action in Tourism and encourages hospitality and tourism businesses to measure all travel and tourism-related emissions.

Read the Glasgow Declaration of Climate Action in Tourism

Before you can reduce, it's vital to know where you are now. You need to have a starting point and map out your route to net zero. First look at the areas that will have the biggest benefit for your business and the environment, by increasing efficiency and reducing emissions. 

Setting up a system to report your carbon emissions will go a long way to helping you manage and reduce them. A good understanding of your carbon footprint now will put you ahead of any future requirements for emissions reporting.  

Calculating your own emissions can seem like a daunting task but it is manageable. Once you have mastered the basics, you will be able to report on your emission output for a range of sources.


How to measure your carbon emissions

How to measure your carbon footprint

To calculate your emissions, you’ll need a few pieces of information including:

  • A reporting period

    This is the span of time you’re measuring your emission source or sources across. Most businesses use a 12 month reporting period, aligning to the calendar or financial year.

  • A measurement unit for each of your emissions sources

    • kilowatt hour (kWh) for electricity used
    • miles for your employee commuting
    • litres for how much petrol you have used

    You can find this from your bills, meter readings, odometer, own records, or from your suppliers.  

  • The total quantity of unit for your emission sources

    • how many kWh of electricity used
    • how many miles each employee has commuted
    • how many litres of fuel bought

    You can get the amount used in a year from different emission sources from bills, expenses, accounts or your supplier. If you are not already monitoring on a regular basis, you can use Business Energy Scotland's energy usage tracking guide on their website.

  • A greenhouse gas conversion factor for each emission source.

    This is a figure that allows you to calculate how much emissions have come from each of your emission sources.

    You need to use a conversion factor that calculates all your carbon equivalent emissions (CO₂e) and not just your carbon (CO₂). 

    Please note that many carbon footprint calculation tools already include conversion factors, published by the UK Government every year.

    Use the UK Government carbon footprint calculation tools on their website.

2. Recording and monitoring your emissions

Our 2.0 Calculate your emission workbook will help you calculate and monitor the various carbon emission sources associated with your business activities. You can also review our energy monitoring and maintenance factsheet for further guidance.

2.0 Calculate your emissions workbook

Published March 2023

3. Further advice and support

For more guidance and information on measuring your carbon emissions.