Carbon offsetting is rapidly rising in importance. The world’s carbon emissions are increasing at an alarming rate and offsetting your carbon emissions is a powerful mechanism to help in the battle against climate change and global warming.
Benefits of offsetting are not only carbon emission reduction, but depending upon the offset project type, they can bring benefits to the wider environment, as well as local, social and biodiversity benefits.
What is a Carbon Offset?
A carbon offset allows individuals and companies to reduce carbon emissions buy buying carbon credits in carbon reduction projects. These projects may be through:
Each carbon credit is equivalent to a carbon reduction of 1 tonne of CO2.
The Offsetting Process
The process of offsetting emissions involves procuring carbon credits and then retiring the credits on behalf of the organisation. In order for a carbon credit to be have credibility, it must be:
In order to meet these criteria, there are carbon offsets available from various verification schemes, including:
Circular Ecology are able to procure and retire verified carbon credits from a broad range of providers.
How to Offset Your Emissions
The process of offsetting your carbon starts by understanding how much carbon you would like to offset and the reasoning behind offsetting.
If your goal is simply to contribute to society, then you may be willing to set an offset budget, match that to an amount of carbon in tonnes CO2 and then the carbon credits can be procured and retired. This will provide the proof you need should you wish to make claims on how many tonnes of carbon your organisation has offset, or how many trees have been planted, which you may wish to use in your annual CSR report.
However, this approach would not allow claims of carbon neutrality or net zero carbon. That requires the highest level of assurance.
Carbon Neutrality and Net Zero Carbon
Should your goal be to make claims of carbon neutrality, or Net Zero Carbon projects, the process will need to start with a detailed measurement exercise. Carbon footprint assessments must be in adherence with recognised footprint standards. Well respected carbon measurement standards include:
We are able to advise on appropriate carbon measurement standards and to undertake the assessments. Adherence to these standards provides the level of quality necessary for the carbon calculations. The assessment would have further assurance from an external or third-party review.
Once the amount of carbon has been established, to the appropriate level of assurance, the carbon credits can be procured and retired on your behalf. Retiring a carbon credit ensures that no one else can buy the credit.
What is the Financial and Societal Benefits of Offsetting?
The Gold Standard, one of the main carbon verification and registry schemes, has conducted researcher on the wider benefits of carbon credits. Their research indicates that there are additional economic benefits of each carbon credit and that they contribute to various UN sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), with benefits on biodiversity, livelihood and health and employment.
Their research (https://www.goldstandard.org/articles/gold-standard-global-goals) indicates that a carbon reduction of 1 tonne of CO2, through the Gold Standard, has a wider financial benefit of:
These values are all well in excess of the costs of a single carbon credit.
How Much Do Carbon Offset Credits Cost?
The cost of offsets vary considerably and the market is supply and demand, so could be liable to change at any moment. However, as a rough guideline, carbon credits can be procured from verified offset schemes from less than £2 ($ / €) a tonne CO2. Projects in that low-end range tend to be renewable energy projects in Asia and are likely older vintages. However, they are still verified carbon credits.
There is considerably more choice in the range £5-10 (($ / €) a tonne CO2. Within this price range it is realistic to have a choice of country or region that the offset occurs, as well as project type, such as forestry, renewables, cookstoves…etc.
The most expensive offsets tend to be forestry-based credits, which are currently desirable and have many other wider benefits.
How Much Carbon Will I Need to Offset
This is best established through a carbon assessment. However, to provide some rough guidelines, the carbon emissions from various activities:
These values should be used as a rough guideline only.
Where Can I Buy Carbon Offset Credits?
Circular Ecology can procure carbon credits from reputable schemes, including Gold Standard, Verified Carbon Standard and the UN Clean Development Mechanism. Carbon credits can be procured from various countries and regions around the world.