For the majority of Australian businesses, GHG emissions cost and reduction opportunities sit outside their organisations.

This is not necessarily the case for water utilities which are at the forefront in achieving Net Zero (Scope 1 and 2) emissions. Innovations in renewable energy investments including pumped hydro, investments in efficiency measures, waste-to-energy, and resource production products like biochar, offer circular, innovative ways to reduce direct emissions while enhancing the resilience of water and wastewater systems.

With that said, measuring and managing Scope 3 emissions (the indirect Value chain emissions that arise from a water utilities activity, that are not under the ownership or control of a water utility) holds significant opportunity to holistically reduce cross-sector emissions in the delivery of water services. The water sector can continue to demonstrate its leadership role, in caring for our communities, through effective cross-sector partnerships as we transition to a low carbon economy. As a sector, we believe this can be done in a way that reduces costs to the community, while improving the liveability of our cities and towns, boosting public health and economic prosperity.

Measurement and management of Scope 3 emissions is an emerging area within the water sector, where very few utilities currently publicly report on Scope 3 emissions. Challenges are associated with the many and varied frameworks and standards available, setting the boundary for measurement, and consistency in the approach, and all with Australian climate-related financial disclosure requirements to report on Scope 3 emissions well on the horizon.

This guide aims to begin the process in building a broad understanding and acceptance of the importance of Scope 3 emissions and facilitate increased consistency and credibility to Scope 3 emissions management across the water sector. It aims to support utilities to better understand how to evaluate their Scope 3 emissions profile, provide agreed principles to help define their Scope 3 emission boundary, and understand complexities and assumptions associated with different reporting methods and tools with the key aim to ultimately reduce material emission sources from Value chains.

The guide is presented in an easy-to-follow, step-by step guide to support the management of Scope 3 emissions. The pathway presented is relevant for water utilities with varying maturity on Scope 3, from starting to investigate to those looking to set targets and actively report on Scope 3 emissions.

We are committed to continuous improvement and will update this guide as needed in response to WSAA member feedback or changes in the regulatory environment (for example the expected release of the Australian Sustainability Reporting Standards – Disclosure of Climate-related Financial Information by the Australian Accounting Standards Board). 



AuthorWater Services Association of Australia
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Guide to Scope 3 emissions management for the water sector.pdf PDF
Appendix A - Environment Product Declaration (EPD) Template A - Contractually Binding.pdf PDF
Appendix A - Environment Product Declaration (EPD) Template B - Seeking Collaboration.pdf PDF