What are carbon offsets and should your company use them?

Some household brands can produce more CO2 than an entire country. With today’s focus on the environment, this is internally and externally recognised as a problem that needs solving. Many companies are turning to carbon offsets to help do this.

So what are carbon offsets? Carbon offsets allow for CO2 to be taken out of the atmosphere so that companies can reduce the impact that they are having on the planet. There are many ways to offset such as planting trees (the most common), rejuvenating peatlands, or capturing CO2 directly from the air.

Carbon offsets have faced a lot of criticism in the past but there has been significant improvements in the verification and effectiveness of these projects. If you are a business that wants to offset it’s footprint, here’s a few things to consider first.

Can you reduce your emissions without carbon offsets?

The first thing you should do is understand what part of your business is producing the highest emissions. This is unique to each industry. For retailers it could be in their supply chain, for software based companies it could be in the flights that they take.

Some common steps to take to reduce emissions are:

  1. Change your electricity source to renewables.
  2. Install automatic timers to switch off lights and appliances to save energy.
  3. Install software that allows for employees to conduct video conferences instead of flying.
  4. Optimise logistics to remove waste from your organisation.

How do you choose which carbon offsets to invest in?

There are hundreds of projects to chose from which can make the selection process overwhelming. However, by 2030, we need to reduce global emissions by 45%, so it’s worthwhile thinking about how impactful projects can be towards that goal.

Peatland protection can be an effective way to capture CO2

Lets look at some of the most common projects:

Reforestation. Many people gravitate towards tree planting, or reforestation, which is a cheap and easy way to capture emissions. However, it can take 5 to 10 years for a tree to reach maturity so the ability to reduce emissions for the 2030 target can be lower overall.

Peatland protection. This is often an overlooked way of removing CO2 from the atmosphere but peatlands can be twice as efficient at capturing CO2 emissions than reforestation. It can be slightly more expensive than reforestation but its impact is high.

Methane capture. Methane is over 15x more powerful than CO2 at trapping heat in the atmosphere – leading to further global warming. So although CO2 makes up 75% of greenhouse gas emissions, methane is an important gas to capture.

Carbon sequestration (removing CO2 from the air). This is an incredibly impactful way of capturing carbon emissions but can cost up to $200 per tonne of CO2. At the moment, the technology is in its infancy but there are plans to reduce the cost over the coming years.

At Dodo, we select a mix of these projects to ensure that your investments are making an impact while maintaining affordability overall.

Summary

Carbon offsets are a useful way of making your company carbon neutral but it’s worth spending some time to understand how to reduce your CO2 emissions first before choosing a project to invest in. As always, you can get in touch with us at [email protected]o if you have any questions.

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