Why Your Business Should Carbon Offset
When corporations push towards profit, the climate crisis becomes an afterthought. It's only when the government steps in, that businesses decide to get their act together. So how do corporations become carbon neutral without impacting their bottom line? Simple, they carbon offset.
Carbon offsetting has been a growing trend across the globe. It helps many businesses reach their future corporate social responsibility (CSR) goals. Without a CSR strategy, the future of your business may suffer.
In this article, we are going to look at what a carbon offset is, why it's a viable option for CSR, and more!
What Is a Carbon Offset?
A carbon offset is a means of reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Implementing carbon-reducing projects can help achieve this. Offsetting through a project (wind farms, solar panels, reforestation, etc.) can reduce your footprint. Once the investment gets approved, your business will receive a carbon credit. At face value, it is quite simple.
The Benefits of Carbon Offsetting
Carbon offsets are great for mitigating climate change. They also provide conscientious investment opportunities for businesses that create excess environmental impacts through conventional business operations. For example, the airline industry is known for its large carbon footprint. With carbon offsetting programs, such as the one IATA offers, airlines and their customers can purchase credits based on several factors (duration of the flight, distance, emissions, etc.).
Another benefit carbon offsets offer is their long-term change for the environment. Many offset programs, such as tree planting, can provide co-benefits that can help an ecosystem thrive into the future. A study from the Ecological Society of America found that forest offset projects can provide many co-benefits. This includes protection for endangered species, improved water quality, recreation, and more.
Types of Carbon Offset Programs
There are two types of offset programs businesses can partake in. These are compliance (mandatory) offset programs and voluntary offset programs.
Compliance offset programs are projects that are regulated by government organizations. Regulated emission sources, such as air pollution, incorporate offsets as an alternative compliance mechanism. As a result, this allows businesses to meet their emissions cap and reduce the amount of pollution in the environment! Some examples of compliance offset programs include the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM), Joint Implementation (JI), and the Alberta Emission Offset Program (AEOP).
Voluntary offset programs are projects that are run by non-government organizations. While voluntary offset credits can’t be used in the compliance market, they are considered much cheaper for businesses to invest in. Voluntary projects are also more ambitious as they push the bar for experimentation and innovation. Some examples of voluntary offset programs include The Gold Standard, Plan Vivo, and The Verified Carbon Standard.
How Much Is a Carbon Offset Credit?
A carbon credit is equal to one metric tonne (2,204.62 lbs) of carbon dioxide that would have entered the atmosphere. Additionally, pricing can differ from project to project. For example, one carbon credit for a wind turbine will cost more than planting trees.
Carbon credits are usually calculated based on your total carbon footprint. Several things can affect your carbon footprint. Here’s a list of some examples:
Business travel (car, bus, airplane)
Outsourced activities (ex. manufacturing)
Once you know your carbon footprint, it’s time to calculate the total carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2-eq) for each variable. You can do these calculations if you have all the information. Or, there are free and paid carbon footprint calculators online that do the job quite well. Check out carbonfootprint.com or myclimate.org to calculate your carbon offset emissions.
How Do You Buy Carbon Offsets?
Purchasing carbon offsets is straightforward. But, it is important to ensure you buy offsets from a seller that's certified. The most well-known certification boards are Gold Standard and the CSA Group. Once you’ve found a project, the last step is to make a sale. When the sale is complete, your business will receive a carbon credit for the transaction.
Anderson, C., Field, C., & Mach, K. (2017, August 14). Forest offsets partner climate‐change mitigation with conservation. Retrieved March 05, 2021, from https://esajournals.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/fee.1515
Compliance offset programs. (2020, December 29). Retrieved March 05, 2021, from https://www.offsetguide.org/understanding-carbon-offsets/carbon-offset-programs/compliance-offset-programs/
Enabling voluntary carbon offsetting. (n.d.). Retrieved March 05, 2021, from https://www.iata.org/en/programs/environment/carbon-offset/
Voluntary offset programs. (2020, December 29). Retrieved March 05, 2021, from https://www.offsetguide.org/understanding-carbon-offsets/carbon-offset-programs/voluntary-offset-programs/