The GHG Protocol in a Nutshell | EcoOnline US

The GHG Protocol in a Nutshell

Written by Dina Adlouni

Published March 1, 2024

On a cool spring morning, Patrick, an EHS manager at a manufacturing company, is looking at emails in his inbox. A message from his boss stands out with the subject line: Follow GHG Protocol. Patrick opens the email and finds out his organization will now be adhering to this protocol in an effort to measure and reduce their greenhouse gas emissions.  

Patrick has also been named the lead on this project, along with members of the finance team, to follow the GHG protocol when submitting their emissions report in accordance with their regional framework by next year.  

As an EHS manager, Patrick doesn’t know much about the GHG protocol, so he starts browsing the internet to learn more. Do you find yourself in the same position?  

Read on to explore: 

  • What is the GHG protocol? 
  • Why is it important? 
  • What organizations does it concern? 
  • How is the GHG protocol connected to other frameworks and standards? 
  • How do I get started? 

access our guide on GHG reporting to keep your investors happy

What is the GHG protocol?

So, let’s start at the very beginning. What is the greenhouse gas protocol? This is a set of guidelines and standards which help organizations measure and report their greenhouse gas emissions 

First published in 2001, the first edition of the GHG protocol was developed by the World Resources Institute (WRI) and the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD). This was in an effort to help create an internationally standardized framework for businesses, NGOs, and governments to use when it came to their greenhouse gas accounting and Scope 1, 2, and 3 emissions.  

Why is it important?

This GHG framework is important because it provides a sense of standardization, where all organizations can adhere to the same GHG protocols and standards. This also makes a business’s greenhouse gas accounting more reliable because it’s following the guidelines outlined by the GHG protocol. It’s also particularly important to investors and stakeholders because it allows them to easily compare reports from different organizations to decide who to work with.  

Businesses can truly benefit from adhering to the GHG accounting protocol because it provides them with greater insight into their sustainability performance. With this transparency, organizations can make data-driven decisions to reduce their emissions and make the business more resilient when it comes to certain disruptions. Not only is this more cost effective, but it also helps demonstrate a sense of commitment to investors and stakeholders who value an organization’s sustainability strategy.  

Factory with smoke coming out of vessels

How is the GHG protocol connected to certain frameworks and standards?

Think of the GHG protocol as one of the building blocks needed to adhere to a specific framework or regulation. If you are in the United Kingdom, for instance, you will most likely report to the Task Force on Climate-Related Disclosures (TCFD) or Streamlined Energy and Carbon Reporting (SECR). As part of these frameworks, your organization will have to disclose several different elements, including your GHG emissions. The way to comply and accurately report your organization’s emissions, will be by following the GHG protocol.  

Think of the GHG protocol as the gold standard in measuring and reporting an organization’s greenhouse gas emissions. This methodology is followed when reporting to various other standards like the TCFD or SECR, which have additional location-specific standards. 

What organizations does it concern?

According to the GHG Protocol’s official website, 90% of Fortune 500 companies who report to the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP) follow the GHG protocol. As previously mentioned, all organizations must follow the GHG protocol if they would like to submit their carbon accounting reports to their regional framework.  

There are specific criteria you must be able to fulfil when submitting your emissions reports to specific frameworks like the Task Force on Climate-Related Disclosures (TCFD), Streamlined Energy and Carbon Reporting (SECR), or the Corporate Social Responsibility Directive (CSRD).  

For example:   

  • If your organization is in the United Kingdom or in Europe (excluding Switzerland and Norway which have their own regulations) it must be publicly listed, have more than 500 employees, or have over £500 million turnover annually. 
  • If your organization is in California, in the United States, it must make over $1 billion in revenue annually. 
  • If your organization is in Canada it must be federally regulated.  

Organizations that don’t fit these criteria could also choose to submit their carbon accounting to shareholders or investors. In this case, they would simply follow the GHG protocol when submitting their reports.  

How do I get started?

Wrapping your head around this information can be challenging, but our team of internal sustainability experts want to help. With over 15 years of experience in climate metrics, we have supported businesses in a range of industries on their journeys to comply with different reporting standards around the world. 

Get a more accurate picture of GHG reporting requirements for your organization in our eBook, GHG Reporting: How to Keep Your Investors and the Environment Happy, where you will discover the five steps you need to complete your reports, three tips from an internal expert to consider, five mistakes to avoid, and much more. Ready to get started?  

access our guide on GHG reporting to keep your investors happy


Author Dina Adlouni

Dina is a Content Marketing Manager at EcoOnline. She has been a content writer for eight years and has been writing about health and safety for the past three years. 

Our related posts

| Health & Safety
How to properly identify and analyze hazards in your workplace

One of the most fundamental parts of any health and safety professional’s job is to properly identify and analyze...

| Health & Safety
All about Scope 3 emissions (including how to report them)

Measuring scope 3 emissions can be a tricky task. In some instances, they can be mandatory requirements, such as in the...

| Health & Safety
Mental Health and Wellbeing in the Workplace

Keeping your employees safe from harm is a top priority for any employer. Not only does this include physical harm, but...