Carbon footprint explained

Carbon footprint is a term used to describe the total amount of greenhouse gas emissions caused by individuals, organisations or products.

The volume of greenhouse gases created from corporate activities defines the carbon footprint of an organisation.

A carbon footprint is usually reported as an annual figure and includes emissions that the organisation is responsible for under the National Greenhouse and Energy Reporting Act (NGER).


Responsibility for emissions

The responsibility for emissions is separated into two categories called direct and indirect sources to reduce duplication in calculating Australia’s combined national emissions.

This data ensures there is clear evidence of how Australia is tracking toward meeting its national greenhouse gas emissions targets under international convention.


Emission sources

Emission sources are also categorised into scopes that set the context for how emissions are calculated and reported.


 Scope 1

Scope 2

Scope 3

Emission type1

A direct emission source which as a mandatory report item.


Indirect emissions specifically from the purchase of grid electricity.

Indirect emission sources from a range of corporate1 activities that are not a mandatory reporting item but data is known and able to be included.


The source of emission is controlled solely by the reporting organisation.

The organisation has the ability to control the type or number of emission sources through its own business operations and practices.

The emission occurs at the power plant as a result of electricity demanded from an organisation.

There is limited control by the consumer over the fuel source for electricity production, but the volume of electricity can be controlled through efficiencies or choosing renewable energy supplies.

The emission occurs by a third party as a result of demand for goods and services to undertake corporate activities.

These emission sources are not owned or controlled by the organisation but are created as a result of their demand.

General sources Stationary and mobile combustion of fuel, burning of natural gas for heating, release of refrigerant gases from cooling units.

Electricity from grid connected power sources.

Waste sent to landfill, corporate travel and goods and services purchased.