Aviva: Setting standards for measuring the social value of carbon offsets

“If you’re going to invest in offsetting carbon emissions, why wouldn’t you do it with projects that can make a measurable difference to people as well as the environment?”

Zelda Bentham, Head of Environment and Climate Change, Aviva



When it comes to taking responsibility for the company’s environmental impacts, Aviva, the UK’s largest insurer and a global provider of life and general insurance, has long been a standard bearer for its sector.  In 2006, Aviva became the first global insurance group to offset its entire operational emissions and has remained carbon neutral since. But Aviva wanted to go further. By partnering with ClimateCare, Aviva committed not only to offsetting their environmental impacts, but doing so through integrated Climate and Development projects that deliver broader social benefits. Both ClimateCare and Aviva were aware of the efficiencies of this approach, but wanted a way to demonstrate this robustly to Aviva’s internal and external stakeholders.


ClimateCare and Aviva chose to use the LBG (London Benchmarking Group) framework to measure the social impact of Aviva’s carbon offset activity. Aviva already used the LBG framework to measure and report the impacts of its wider community investment programme and it therefore made sense to see if they could also recognise social impacts from their offsetting projects through the same system.  This was the first time that this had ever been done for a carbon offset programme and now provides a model for other organisations to follow.  


The LBG methodology showed that in just two years, Aviva’s carbon offset programme with ClimateCare had improved the lives of 200,000 people through two projects – LifeStraw Carbon for Water in Kenya , which cuts carbon by providing families with water filters so they no longer need to boil water to make it safe, and Envirofit Efficient Stoves in India, a programme distributing cleaner, more efficient stoves, which uses 60% less fuel. This was alongside offsetting more than 126,000 tonnes of carbon emissions.

This robust figure allowed Aviva to demonstrate the impact of its support on people’s lives and engage internal teams and external stakeholders with confidence. By using the LBG framework for their other community investment programmes, Aviva was also able to compare the impacts of their investment in carbon reduction projects with other investments. “What was interesting was how favourably ClimateCare’s integrated climate and development projects compared in terms of community impact” says Zelda Bentham. In addition, Aviva now have a benchmark from which they can set targets for future developments.


ClimateCare is an expert in delivering integrated projects that tackle multiple issues including cutting carbon emissions, tackling poverty and improving health. It’s the natural partner for companies like Aviva who seek to offset their carbon emissions in a best practice way, through projects that protect the environment and improve lives. It works in a bespoke way with partners, delivering climate and development programmes designed specifically to meet their carbon offset, sustainable development and business needs.

ClimateCare and Aviva worked together to develop measurement methodologies that would stand up to scrutiny. LBG agreed with the process and logic, giving Aviva the confidence to include the impact figures in their 2012 LBG submission.  The process required a significant level of commitment and resource from Aviva and ClimateCare, particularly as this had not been done before under the LBG framework. However, it has robustly demonstrated the significant extra value of Aviva’s offset programme. Also, thanks to the partnership with ClimateCare, Aviva’s innovation and best practice in measurement has once more set the standard – this time as the model LBG will use to demonstrate how all LBG members report the community impacts of their offset activities.



Aviva continue to support integrated climate and development projects. On World Environment Day 2014 it announced it had improved a further 195,000 lives through offsetting its unavoidable emissions with ClimateCare.


Read more

> Press Release: Aviva measures 200,000 lives improved through carbon offset programme

> Measuring social value is tough – a great article on the 2 degrees website

> Monitoring Social Impact – Case Study written by Ethical Corporation