Carbon offsetting can be a controversial topic but offsetting emissions can be a proactive method of kick-starting a net zero strategy.
Investing in carbon offsetting projects can be a valuable way to reduce an organisation’s carbon footprint. By ensuring their carbon offsets are equal to or greater than the carbon they produce, an organisation can become carbon neutral while they continue to actively work towards their net zero targets.
To do this successfully, one of the first steps is for businesses to understand how much carbon they emit. This can take time and resource to analyse, with organisations needing to calculate and report on their scopes 1, 2 and 3 emissions. Through understanding these emissions, businesses can see what they can reduce as part of their net zero strategy and which emissions are unavoidable and should be offset by investing in schemes.
However, carbon offsetting does have some critics, with concerns over organisations not reducing their own emissions and instead buying carbon credits and announcing they are ‘carbon neutral’ via marketing. Although acts like this may be done with the best intentions, organisations that overstate the work they have done to reduce their emissions could risk being called out for greenwashing.
For many businesses that are starting their net zero journey, their hearts are in the right place, they are proud of the work they are doing and want to let their customers know that they are making a positive change. However, buying carbon offsets cannot be used as a substitute for doing the real work to remove a business’ impact on the environment. By working with experts who can help them understand the work they have done so far and what more needs to be done, businesses can avoid greenwashing.
Despite carbon offsetting potentially being painted with the green (wash) brush, it can be a valuable way for businesses to take positive steps in their carbon reduction journey, whilst also providing investment for important solutions.
There are a number of different types of offsetting projects organisations can invest in that facilitate valuable environmental, social and technological benefits for our planet. When looking to invest in offsetting projects, organisations should ensure the carbon credits from their chosen projects are verified to a high standard, these can include Verified Carbon Standard (VCS), Gold Standard Voluntary Emission Reductions (VER), UK and EU Emissions Trading Standard (EU + UK ETS), and the United Nations Certified Emission Reductions (CER) programmes. Doing this will ensure organisations are getting independently verified carbon credits that will stand up to scrutiny, therefore ensure they get the best from their investments and the projects are really making a difference.
Demand for carbon offsetting is expected to increase as more organisations commit to net zero. With projects that have societal and environmental benefits in addition to offsetting a business’ emissions the most popular projects. It is important for organisations to ensure they research and choose the right project to achieve a positive outcome.