Carbon Offsetting Strategy
Why buying offsets is one of the last things you do but one of the first to have an impact
Properly used and properly sourced, offsets can play a vital role in helping you achieve your sustainability commitments. But all too often this isn’t the case. A few initial considerations could make all the difference in achieving a meaningful result. We look at how to offset the right way – within the context of a broader sustainable strategy.
That strategy should proceed according to the following steps and be reviewed annually:
- Ask what your objectives are You may simply want to become carbon neutral. Perhaps you have other environmental targets? Managing and reducing usage of fuel types, water and waste are increasingly common goals. Tip: Now is the time to consider how you want to involve your stakeholders in the process and keep them informed. Of course, the objectives should be quantified and time-bound.
- Measure your footprint Both direct and indirect (supply chain). Tip: The more fine-grained data and high quality you can capture an analyse the easier the next step will be.
- Avoid and reduce to the fullest extent possible Decreasing your emissions and other appropriate metrics is at the core of any sound approach. Tip: Increases in energy efficiency and minimisation of waste will also save you money.
- Substitute- Review your suppliers.It’s not just about quantity reductions, different generation and production technologies may have radically different environmental impacts. Tip: Considering purchasing some or all of your power from renewable sources or green power certificates – for North America we can help supply RECs here. [Link to American Clean Gas – Environmental Attributes, Renewable Energy Certificates.]
- Now is the time to offset the rest your remaining emissions. There will always be business process that cause emissions that are just too important to cut but by incorporating offsets in your approach you can still achieve zero (or even negative!) carbon. Tip: See the best practice for doing this below.
- Communicate your actions. You will be demonstrating your commitment is more than just words and setting a shining example for others. Tip: Maintaining a dialogue with stakeholders from the start can open up new channels and possibilities. We can direct you to resources to improve your environmental reporting. With respect to offsets, selecting one of our high quality projects, complete with case studies, will bring home how the change you’ve help us make is real
Whilst offsetting may come late in the strategy cycle it has distinct advantages that bring it to the fore when it comes to having an effect and engaging with an audience:
- Whilst avoidance and reduction are on-going processes that can take years to yield significant results, offsetting has immediate results as it finances projects reducing emissions today.
- There will always be essential processes where emissions cannot be mitigated by avoidance and reduction, or you may not be able to prioritise these in a growth phase – offsetting nevertheless enables to you to achieve zero carbon status.
- Although there are many economically viable avoidance and reduction measures, the law of diminishing returns certainly applies once these have been taken and further steps can be prohibitively expensive. Yet in much of the world even the most basics of measures face barriers to implementation – doesn’t it make sense to help finance these opportunities first, where you will get the biggest developmental return? It’s s a clear case of using comparative advantage to reach a Pareto optimum. That’s why our projects target areas – both geographical and industrial – where your investment will go furthest and maximise value for all participants.
- The right offset project can provide a whole host of other benefits – environmental and social – that touch peoples’ lives and capture their imaginations in ways lowering your electricity consumption may find it hard to do.