Emission factors

In any calculation protocol, there is a need for reliable and approved data sources - emission factors.
ISO 14064 does not contain specific emission factors for calculating greenhouse gas emissions. Instead, ISO 14064 provides a standardised framework for organisations to account for their greenhouse gas emissions and removals consistently and transparently. The standard outlines the procedures and principles for quantifying, monitoring, and reporting emissions and removals but does not prescribe specific emission factors.
Emission factors are typically derived from various sources, including national or regional environmental agencies, scientific research, or industry-specific data. Organisations and entities using ISO 14064 are expected to determine the appropriate emission factors based on the nature of their operations and the specific greenhouse gases they are measuring. This allows for flexibility and adaptability to different industries and regions.
ISO 14064 does, however, emphasise the importance of using accurate and up-to-date emission factors and data sources. Users of ISO 14064 are encouraged to follow best practices for data collection and measurement to ensure the reliability and credibility of their greenhouse gas inventories and reports. They may refer to recognised sources of emission factors and methodologies, such as those provided by government agencies or industry associations when determining the appropriate factors for their calculations.
The GHG Protocol does not provide specific emission factors for calculating greenhouse gas emissions. Like ISO 14064, the GHG Protocol offers a standardised framework for organisations to measure and report their greenhouse gas emissions consistently and transparently.
The GHG Protocol provides tools and resources on its website to help organisations calculate emissions. These tools include emission factors and calculators that organisations can use as references when quantifying their greenhouse gas emissions. These tools are designed to assist organisations in calculating and promoting consistency in emissions reporting. However, it's important to note that these tools are not part of the official GHG Protocol standards but are supplemental resources that organisations may find helpful.
So, while the GHG Protocol does provide these tools, they do not replace the need for organisations to do their own calculations using the most appropriate and up-to-date data for their specific operations. The GHG Protocol's tools are meant to complement the core standards and guidelines provided by the organisation and can be helpful in facilitating the emissions quantification process.
Emission factors, which are specific to particular activities or processes, are typically determined based on data from authoritative sources, government agencies, scientific research, and industry-specific data. Organisations using the GHG Protocol are responsible for identifying and using the appropriate emission factors relevant to their operations and the greenhouse gases they assess.
As part of its guidance, the GHG Protocol encourages users to follow the best data collection and measurement practices. It also promotes using recognised and reliable emission factors and methodologies when calculating emissions but does not prescribe specific factors. This flexibility allows organisations to adapt their emissions calculations to the specific characteristics of their activities and industries.


Ecoinvent is one of the most widely used and respected databases for life cycle assessment (LCA) data, including emission factors. It is notably recognized for its comprehensive and high-quality data related to the environmental impacts of products and processes. Researchers, businesses, and policymakers frequently use Ecoinvent to assess the environmental performance of products and services. Here's an overview of Ecoinvent:
Ecoinvent Database:
  • Scope: Ecoinvent provides life cycle inventory (LCI) data for a wide range of materials, products, and processes. It covers various sectors, including agriculture, energy production, manufacturing, transportation, and more.
  • Data Quality: Ecoinvent is known for its rigorous data quality standards. The data undergoes a thorough review and is regularly updated to ensure accuracy and reliability.
  • Geographic Coverage: Ecoinvent offers data for both European and non-European regions, making it valuable for international applications.
  • Environmental Impact Categories: In addition to greenhouse gas emissions, Ecoinvent provides data on other environmental impact categories such as water use, land use, and various forms of pollution.
Use of Ecoinvent in Emissions Accounting:
  • Greenhouse Gas Accounting: Ecoinvent contains emission factors for various greenhouse gases, which are crucial for organizations and researchers conducting greenhouse gas inventories and assessing the carbon footprint of products and processes.
  • Life Cycle Assessments: Ecoinvent is frequently used for conducting life cycle assessments (LCAs) to evaluate the environmental impact of a product or process throughout its entire life cycle, including the manufacturing, use, and end-of-life phases.
Integration with Other Standards:
  • Ecoinvent is often used in conjunction with widely recognized standards such as ISO 14040 and ISO 14044, which provide guidelines for conducting LCAs.
  • It can also be used in compliance with GHG Protocol and ISO 14064 standards for greenhouse gas accounting and reporting.
Ecoinvent has gained popularity and trust in the sustainability and environmental assessment communities due to its extensive and credible data. However, while it is widely used, it's not the only emissions database available, and the choice of a specific database may depend on the specific needs and geographic context of the user's emissions accounting or LCA project.

Other databases

US EPA Emissions Inventory:
The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) maintains a comprehensive emissions inventory that provides emission factors and data for a wide range of sources, including industrial processes, energy production, transportation, and more. This database is particularly valuable for organizations operating in the United States.
DEFRA/DECC Conversion Factors:
The UK Department for Environment, Food Rural Affairs (DEFRA) and the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) provide greenhouse gas emissions conversion factors for use in the United Kingdom. These factors are valuable for organizations in the UK and offer data specific to the region.
IPCC Emissions Factors:
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) provides emission factors and guidelines for estimating emissions from various sources. These guidelines are widely used globally and serve as a valuable reference for international greenhouse gas accounting.
IEA Emissions Factors:
The International Energy Agency (IEA) provides emissions data and factors related to energy production and use, including emissions from fossil fuels, renewable energy sources, and energy efficiency.
Environmental LCA Databases:
Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) databases like SimaPro and GaBi include comprehensive life cycle inventory data, which often includes emission factors for various materials, products, and processes.
Government and Industry Sources:
Many national and regional government agencies, as well as industry associations, provide emissions data specific to their areas of interest and expertise. For example, the European Environment Agency (EEA) provides emissions data for European countries.
Custom or In-House Databases:
Some organizations develop their own emission factors databases or collect data specific to their operations, especially when dealing with unique processes or materials.
When selecting an emissions database, it's essential to consider the geographic relevance and the specific emissions sources you need to assess. Different databases may provide more accurate and relevant data for certain regions or industries. Additionally, the choice of database should align with the goals and requirements of your greenhouse gas accounting and reporting activities.