Demystifying Carbon Offsets
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by Aran Rice on 03/21/2012
Part of an effective sustainability strategy is the measurement and management of carbon emissions. Carbon offsets can be a powerful tool for helping your company meet its emissions reduction targets, but they are often misunderstood.
More and more companies are familiar with the concepts of renewable energy credits (RECs), greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions inventories, and energy management systems. The term “carbon offset” is becoming a common part of today’s environmental vernacular, but many remain unclear on what exactly a carbon offset -aka a verified emissions reductions- is and how organizations can use them to credibly address carbon emissions and environmental impact.
It can be cost prohibitive or operationally difficult to address emissions at their source through direct or on-site reductions. However, companies can still achieve their environmental goals by purchasing carbon offsets to mitigate their GHG emissions from sources such as corporate travel.
How does it work? When companies (or individuals) purchase offsets, they provide financial support to projects that either 1) remove carbon dioxide from the air (such as a re-forestation project) or 2) keep the CO2 from being emitted through a process such as methane collection and combustion. Essentially, the organization chooses to “offset” the emissions generated at their facility with reduction or destruction of emissions that occur somewhere else.
The use of carbon offsets has become a commonly used method of addressing GHG emissions in compliance situations (such as the “cap and trade” scheme developed as part of the Kyoto Protocol), but voluntary participants are left wondering how credible verified emissions reductions are and how they can ensure that credibility in order to meet their own carbon reduction goals.
In our new white paper, How They Work: Demystifying Carbon Offsets, we review three important aspects of the use of carbon offsets as part of a carbon reduction strategy:
- Motivation: How carbon offsets can help you meet your voluntary environmental stewardship or corporate responsibility goals
- Measurement: How you can use carbon offsets to address your reduction targets for Scope 1 and Scope 3 emissions
- Offset quality: How offsets are standardized, verified, and tracked to ensure credibility
For more than a decade, we’ve been supporting organizations and individuals in measuring, managing, and reducing their carbon impact. Contact us today for more information on how our products and services can support your environmental goals.
Aran Rice is Vice President of Sales for Renewable Choice.