Upstream Emissions

Upstream emissions (Category U) refer to the embodied carbon emissions of hardware purchased by an organisation and the carbon emissions of the development and distribution of installed software used by the organisation.

Understanding upstream emissions allows organisations to comprehensively assess the environmental impact of their assets and supply chains. It enables the development of strategies to reduce the carbon footprint of materials and processes, promoting sustainable procurement practices and circular economy principles.

Upstream emissions are related to GHG Protocol Scope 3.


Emissions associated with developing and delivering off-the-shelf and open-source software installed on the organisation’s systems. Includes emissions related to:

  • Energy consumed and hardware used during programming, testing and releasing new software versions.
  • Packaging and digital distribution of software over the internet.
  • Product support services for troubleshooting and guiding customers.


Embodied carbon emissions associated with hardware devices owned by an organisation, including emissions from the manufacture, transportation, installation, maintenance, and end-of-life of a device.

Read more about embodied carbon emissions.

Employee Hardware

Laptops, desktops, mobiles, printers, and peripherals used by employees.

Click here to see a worked example of estimating embodied emissions for a laptop.

Networking Hardware

When considering the upstream emissions of a network, consider the embodied carbon of any networking devices that are owned by the organisation. These include, but are not limited to:

  • routers
  • switches
  • bridges
  • Wi-Fi access points
  • firewalls
  • modems
  • hubs
  • repeaters
  • cables

Ideally, data sheets from the manufacturer should be used to gather this data.

Data Centre and Server Hardware

Servers, storage systems, and data centre infrastructure installed on-premise.

Click here to see a worked example of estimating embodied emissions for a server.