Simon Geale

17 November 2021
Topics in this article
  • Net Zero | Scope 3
  • People

Many businesses are embarking on their decarbonization journey, with aims to change business practices to reach net zero. To aid this journey, our Decarbonization-as-a-Service offering focuses on helping businesses to reduce greenhouse gas emissions (CO2e) from their suppliers. As part of this service, we offer the ‘Carbon Cube’, a first stage spend and emissions indicator to start this journey.

The Carbon Cube enables organizations to get initial visibility over the greenhouse gas emissions (CO2e) emitted from their supply base. We collect, cleanse, and categorize spend data and then apply emissions factors (approximations of CO2etn per £/$ in line with national indicators and the Greenhouse Gas Protocol). Essentially, we translate what you spend across suppliers into informed assumptions on the emissions this produces.

Offering a fast initial assessment of supplier emissions, the Cube identifies prevalent suppliers and procurement categories, as well as estimating the overall ‘costs of carbon’ within the supply chain now and in the future.

But is this right for your business and how does it work in practice?

Carbon Cube – achieving decarbonisation

The Carbon Cube is a valuable tool for businesses starting or building towards their supply chain decarbonization journey. In the early stages of decarbonization, the analysis from the Cube highlights where emissions are coming from with quick and cost-effective evidence. This can be used to initiate discussions, build the case for change, and begin action.

A lot of businesses have good visibility of emissions in Scope 1 and 2 but scope 3 is a much harder and longer process to go through, mainly because of the complexity and availability of data. It is best tackled in stages, with the Cube helping to progress initial Scope 3 discussions, providing an overview of likely CO2e focus areas and costs in a matter of weeks.

Detail and duration

To get started, organizations first share an ‘Accounts Payable’ (AP) download that provides supplier names, countries, costs, and where possible categories and subcategories of products and services purchased (this last part of not always possible, or “clean” but we can work around that).

Once these are established, there are four key stages to produce the Cube:

  • Data foundations – This requires the collection and auditing of data on suppliers, allowing measures to be agreed and outputs/timings to be confirmed.
  • Cleansing – This sees the data from suppliers being normalised and grouped, to remove errors.
  • Enriching – Next, data is categorised and assigned to certain emissions factors, against standards from the GHG Protocol. This allows the greatest exposures to be identified at a category and supplier level.
  • Embarking on a Decarbonisation-as-a-Service programme – Implement the operational changes required for organizational decarbonization, this means working with suppliers, and putting in place the accounting, forecasting and decisioning tools to support this.

Is the Carbon Cube right for your business?

The Carbon Cube is not a carbon accounting tool and should not be seen as a like-for-like replacement. If you have progressed your Scope 3 decarbonization for a while, ingesting multiple types of data from suppliers, then you should be looking towards Climate Tech tools. This is a fast-moving market and some of the new more exciting tools emerging offer Intelligent Carbon Visibility and have the ambition to democratize the data that sits behind decarbonization. If this is the case, we have some alternative exciting and emerging tech to talk to you about from

If you are starting out, then carbon accounting tools are useful but are for the long term, both in terms of subscriptions and speed to data. The Carbon Cube is about focussing on suppliers and contracts now, rather than in months’ time, and means you can also start to gather the data needed before you buy or subscribe to any further tools.

Are you trying to help your business reach net-zero? Get in touch to discuss how Decarbonization-as-a-Service and the Carbon Cube can work for you.


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