As businesses look to be more sustainable and head towards being carbon neutral or even carbon negative, we thought we would investigate carbon offsetting: what it is, how you can go about it and why you should consider it.
So, what is carbon offsetting?
Carbon offsetting is the process of calculating the total carbon emissions (CO2) and offsetting them- for instance, you can offset the carbon emissions from your flight. There are even several handy calculators online that will calculate the exact amount you need to offset.
The idea is to fund solutions to climate change by paying a contribution for these emissions.
As a business, you will need to look at where your carbon emissions are coming from to calculate your carbon footprint.
You can then offset this carbon in a variety of ways, but the main ones are:
- Investment in onsite renewable energy or clean energy technology
- Planting trees
- Carbon capture and storage
- Paying money to an offset certifier that offers verified emission reduction (VER) credits
So, how much carbon do we emit?
On average each person in the UK emits just over 8 tonnes of carbon dioxide annually. The UK is 36th in the world per head for carbon emissions.
Why should we consider carbon offsetting?
Carbon offsetting can help limit the impact your business has on the environment. If you offset all the carbon you emit you are achieving NET zero.
Which businesses are going further?
Ideally, not only should businesses offset the carbon they emit into the atmosphere, but they should also have a sustained goal to reduce carbon emissions and look at ways to have less impact on the environment. This might be by using by-products of industrial processes or instead of travelling to meetings holding them online. Electric vehicle fleets are another way to limit carbon emissions.
An example of a business with long term sustainable goals to reduce emissions is Brewdog. you can read all about their pledge to “make earth great again” here.
How difficult is it to offset carbon emissions?
If you Google carbon offsetting you are presented with a myriad of options. There are also several differing accreditations. There are in fact so many options available out there for businesses, you can invest in UK projects or overseas projects. There are so many variables and you need to understand what you are investing in to understand the pros and cons, it is all well and good planting trees, but trees take time to grow for example.
We can help simplify and explain the options available to you and understand your motivations and objectives and help align projects to these.
We highly recommend that you always use the following principles when considering offsetting:
- Cut emissions first. Prioritise reducing your own emissions and reduce the need for offsets in the first place.
- Ensure environmental integrity. Use offsets that are verifiable and correctly accounted for and have a low risk of non-additionality, reversal and creating negative unintended consequences for people and the environment.
- Maintain transparency. Disclose your current emissions, accounting practices, targets to reach Net Zero, and the type of offsets that you are using.
- Shift over time to carbon removal offsetting. Most offsets available today are emission reductions, which are necessary but not sufficient to achieve net zero in the long run. Carbon removals scrub carbon directly from the atmosphere.
- Move towards long-lived carbon storage. Shortlived storage involves methods that have a higher risk of being reversed over decades. Longlived storage refers to methods of storing carbon that have a low risk of reversal over centuries to millennia.
- Support the development of Net Zero aligned offsetting. Use long term, well established frameworks. In addition, supporting the restoration and protection of a wide range of natural and semi-natural ecosystems in their own right has benefits in terms of the world having greater resilience to climate change as well as carbon storage.
CEC can offer full carbon offsetting so, as a business if you would like to find out more about how you can limit your impact on the environment, why not get in touch?