GHG Protocol: Reporting and Documentation

The GHG Protocol is the most established standard for calculating and reporting greenhouse gas emissions. Here you will find out what the GHG Protocol is, what the standards are within the protocol, how to report according to the protocol and what principles to follow when GHG is part of your sustainability reporting.

Illustration of GHG

What is the GHG Protocol?

The Greenhouse Gas Protocol (GHG Protocol) is an international standard used to make it easier for companies and organisations to report their greenhouse gas emissions in terms of the amount of six greenhouse gases:

  1. Carbon dioxide (CO2)
  2. Methane (CH4)
  3. Nitrous oxide (N2O)
  4. Sulphur hexafluoride (SF6)
  5. Hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs)
  6. Perfluorocarbons (PFCs)

The GHG Protocol was developed by the World Resources Institute and the World Business Council for Sustainable Development. The protocol was launched in 2001 but has been updated several times. The GHG standard is used by companies, organisations and governments to understand, quantify and manage greenhouse gas emissions.

How to Report under the GHG Protocol?

The six greenhouse gases are converted and reported in carbon dioxide equivalents (CO2e), and the emissions are divided into three 'scopes':

Scope 1

Scope 1 includes your organisation's direct emissions from sources that it owns or controls. This could include factories or cars. Here it is important to collect information and data from the business on, for example, production, transport and waste.

Scope 2

Scope 2 includes indirect emissions, for example from electricity, steam, cooling and heating. Here you can usually look at the accounts and summarise relevant purchases.

Scope 3

Scope 3 includes the emissions that your business gives rise to in its value chain. Scope 3 is divided into 15 different categories and can, for example, be emissions generated by materials, purchased goods or services.

It also means emissions that an end consumer generates when a product is used. Here you should think both "upstream and downstream" in your value chain, which makes Scope 3 more complicated to report.

Different standards under the GHG Protocol

There are different standards within the GHG Protocol and therefore reporting differs to some extent between them:

  • Corporate Value Chain
  • Project Protocol
  • Product Standard
  • GHG Protocol for Cities
  • Policy and Action Standard
  • Mitigation Goal Standard
  • Corporate Standard

Some standards are more commonly used:

Corporate Value Chain

Corporate Value Chain refers to a comprehensive assessment of greenhouse gas emissions across an organisation's entire value chain. It includes direct and indirect emissions for which the organisation is responsible (Scope 1, 2, and 3).

Project Protocol

The Project Protocol provides guidelines for quantifying, monitoring and reporting GHG emission reductions from climate change projects. It is often used to develop and verify emission reduction projects under schemes such as carbon offsetting and emissions trading.

This protocol helps to ensure that projects lead to real, measurable and long-term GHG reductions.

Product Standard

The Product Standard focuses on the emissions associated with individual products. It involves a life cycle analysis to assess GHG emissions from raw material extraction to product end use and disposal.

This standard is key for companies looking to reduce the emissions associated with their products, and is relevant for product development, product labelling and environmental claims.

GHG Protocol Principles for Documentation

These principles relate to how you document the improvement process and are important to adhere to in order to ensure sustainability, transparency and measurability.


Reporting should be able to serve as a decision-making tool for internal and external users. This means that GHG reporting should reflect your business. It helps if you first map your organisational structure to find all emissions.

You can use ISO 14064 -1 in this step of the process as a guiding requirement specification at the organisational level for quantifying and reporting greenhouse gas emissions and removals.


Reporting shall cover all emissions within the specified system boundary. Any exceptions shall be described and explained.


The reporting, calculation and methodology should be comparable. Changes in data, methodology or system boundaries (e.g. equity share approach or control approach) should be documented. This means that emissions should be traceable over time in a consistent manner.


Reporting should include all background data, methods, sources and assumptions and these should be documented, both for internal and external stakeholders.


Calculated emissions should be as close to actual emissions as possible. This is done by ensuring data quality in various ways.

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