Gross approximations of Scope 3 greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions can help entities recognize where the greatest amounts of GHGs may occur during the lifecycle of a general product or service on a macro level. This can be helpful when assessing what phases of a general product's evolution, use and disposal are ripe for improved energy efficiency and innovation. However, IBM does not assert on a micro level what the Scope 3 GHG emissions are from the operations of its suppliers and external distribution partners in their work that is specific to IBM, or associated with the use of its products and services. The necessary estimating assumptions and corresponding variability simply do not allow for adequate credibility, let alone calculations that could be perceived as deterministic.
Like many manufacturers, IBM has thousands of suppliers around the world. They are in all types of businesses and very few, if any, work solely for IBM. Furthermore, the sources of energy used by these suppliers vary, and IBM does not believe it could determine a credible estimate or apportionment of the energy used by these suppliers that would be associated with the products or services provided to IBM versus that associated with products or services provided to other companies and customers. In addition, IBM's specific scope of business with any given supplier remains dynamic, as it is driven by business need.
Moreover, one company's asserted Scope 3 emissions are another company's Scope 1 and Scope 2 emissions. Since the ultimate goal for climate protection is for global societies to achieve demonstrable reductions in actual GHG emissions, IBM believes real results in GHG emissions reduction are directly achieved when each enterprise takes responsibility to address its own emissions and improve its energy efficiency. This is reinforced by IBM's recent announcement that all of its first-tier suppliers will be expected to develop a management system, inventory their key environmental impacts including GHG emissions and develop reduction plans for those key impacts.