Sustainable Leaders can futureproof by offsetting

Last week’s Edie Sustainable Leaders Forum brought together the great and the good of the sustainability and corporate responsibility sector to discuss how businesses can help solve the critical issues facing society and the planet.

Our sector is never short of a few buzzwords with which to bamboozle the rest of the sustainably-uninitiated. From purpose-led missions, to natural capital valuations, and onwards towards becoming net positive and creating shared value, the conference was awash with the latest thinking in the world of sustainability.

One recurring theme which is in no way transitory, was the critical role of business in making both the Paris Agreement and the Sustainable Development Goals a reality. Speaker after speaker stepped up to echo the view that now is the time for business to step up and really drive the sustainability agenda. And a key weapon within business’ armoury in achieving that goal is mobilising sustainable finance and the capital markets to help facilitate the low carbon transition.

The tool most frequently cited by everyone – from Aviva to Aecom to Diageo – as being critical to this process was carbon pricing (both internal and external mechanisms) and energising the carbon markets.

Strange then that one highly successful existing mechanism for pricing carbon emissions and creating flows of sustainable finance – the option for companies to take full responsibility for their own emissions by investing in sustainable development projects that have a direct impact both on global carbon emissions as well as delivering against many of the SDGs – was not really explored as a solution during the debate.

Perhaps it is because carbon offsetting has been dropped from the current sustainability lexicon, making room instead for some of these newer, more hashtag-able terms.

And yet carbon and development projects that result in carbon credits tradeable on the open market are a tried and tested way of mitigating climate change. Offsetting offers companies and individuals the opportunity to compensate for their unavoidable emissions whilst they and the world of innovation is working out ways in which to eliminate them altogether.

ClimateCare is 20 years old this year and our philosophy and commitment to combatting the effects of climate change hasn’t changed in any fundamental sense since our inception.  In our experience, tackling climate change requires rigorously tried and tested solutions that require both a long-term commitment and a focus on real impact measurement.

Over the past two decades we have developed or supported projects which collectively have reduced more than 20 million tonnes of carbon, and improved the lives of over 15 million people.

As David Schofield of Aviva said yesterday, “the key test of success in CSR is to ask yourself whether you are going to be proud of the decision you made to do something in 20 years’ time?”

#offsettingworks

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Sophie Brooks, Director of Client Services, ClimateCare