Every organisation and individual has a carbon footprint. Even with the most determined efforts to cut emissions at source, we are all still responsible for some carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases going into the atmosphere, so causing global climate change.
We could choose to ignore this, and take no action to tackle the consequences of those unavoidable emissions which might dwarf everything we’ve been able to cut. Or we can take responsibility for them. One way of doing so is to ensure that an equivalent amount of carbon is either absorbed, or avoided being emitted, elsewhere.
This can be achieved by financing the introduction of renewable energy or energy efficiency measures to replace the need for fossil fuels, or by conserving or planting forests, to absorb carbon from the atmosphere. This is carbon offsetting.
ClimateCare helps business achieve this through buying credits from carefully selected emissions reduction projects, accredited to an internationally recognised standard. Or by creating new emissions reductions projects on their behalf.
ClimateCare also uses carbon finance (money from selling carbon credits) to fund wider social and environmental benefits, particularly among poorer communities in developing countries, reducing carbon emissions and improving quality of life for people who are most threatened by the impacts of climate change.
Offsetting is just one part of good carbon management strategy, but research shows businesses who offset their emissions , are more likely to:
- Have a comprehensive carbon management strategy in place
- Establish an emissions reduction target
- Engage customers and employees with sustainable behaviour change
- Switch to cleaner transportation
- Design more sustainable products
- Install low carbon energy
- Make buildings and processes more energy efficient.
For example, in 2013 the typical offset buyer cut almost 17% of their scope 1 (direct) emissions, while the typical non offset buyer reduced scope 1 emissions by less than 5% in the same year.
The Business Case for Offsetting
Over the last decade, voluntary demand for carbon offsets has reached 844 million tonnes and as organisations increasingly factor in the risks of climate change to their business, the case for taking action to reduce carbon emissions is strengthening.
Carbon offsetting is just one part of the carbon management toolkit, but it is a quick, cost effective way to measurably reduce CO2 in our atmosphere.
Setting out a business case for your organisation to offset emissions is similar to any other outsourcing decision – it pays to outsource emissions reductions where this is more cost effective or technically feasible than doing so in house.
Models can be used to help identify the point at which offsetting emissions becomes the most effective use of budget. And increasingly businesses [see the UN Global Compact’s Business Leadership Criteria on Carbon Pricing] are putting an internal price on carbon emissions, which is a great way to identify and channel investment to drive down greenhouse gas emissions in most efficient way.
Organisations use offsetting in different ways. You can use it to:
- Help compensate for your residual carbon footprint after all other means of cutting emissions have been exhausted.
- Mitigate emissions from a particular product, service, building, project or event
- Mitigate emissions from your supply chain
- As an interim measure as you work to reduce your own direct emissions
- As a cost effective way to meet multiple social impact, environmental and business targets
- To develop new carbon neutral products and services
The business benefits will depend on your situation, but include:
- Improved reputation and brand value
- Differentiation from competitors
- Increased business – ability to meet tender criteria / new products and services
- Increased efficiency
- Supply chain engagement and resilience
- Engaging narrative for investors, staff, media and customers
If you offset with ClimateCare, in addition to making carbon reductions, you will deliver social and environmental impacts. Recent research by Imperial College values this at $664 for every 1 tonne of carbon offset. This impact can help you demonstrate how offsetting meets broader sustainability and social development targets and improve your business case.
Our experts can help you identify where offsetting makes sense and support you in developing a business case for action.
Contact us to understand where carbon offsetting makes sense for your business
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 The Bottom Line: Taking Stock of the Role of Offsets in Corporate Carbon Strategies