Emissions gaming? A gap in the GHG Protocol may be facilitating gaming in accounting of GHG emissions

Research output: Other contribution


The framework for calculating firms’ greenhouse gas emissions via the GHG Protocol is highly complex. It involves the collection and management of large datasets on companies’ activities, and both scientific and estimation uncertainty in translating such activities into emissions estimates. Moreover, there are substantial degrees of freedom created by the existence of multiple calculation methods and emission factor databases, which deliver markedly different emissions estimates for the same underlying activity data inputs. For instance, emission factors in the UK-Defra database are on average 10% lower than those in the US-EPA database, with substantially more variation. Preparers of GHG emissions calculations are required to exercise judgement in selecting the appropriate approach to employ. This framework, we argue, is ripe for being gamed and is unlikely to produce accurate estimates of companies’ true emissions in a durable way. We show, via a pilot study using proprietary data, that these differences are material. If gaming opportunities are fully exploited, actual emissions for some firms could be several times larger than those currently reported. We offer five policy recommendations aimed at making the calculation and reporting of GHG emissions robust.
Original languageEnglish
PublisherKing's College London
Number of pages32
Place of PublicationOnline
EditionNo. 1
VolumeKBS Research Impact Papers
Publication statusPublished - 30 Jun 2023

Publication series

NameKBS Research Impact Papers
PublisherKing's College London


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