Carbon Offsetting – A key constituent of your Sustainability Strategy

Author: Stefania Allegrini.

In a time where the world is starting to wake up to the realities of 2050 climate neutral objectives, preventing 1.5 degrees of global warming and an increased awareness of common goals relating to modifying political, social and economic practices, the integration of sustainability is becoming an ever increasing focus for organisations of all sizes.

With the growth of energy generated and procured from renewable sources, an increasing focus on energy efficiency measures and wider CSR initiatives, it is easy for the concept of carbon offsetting to get overlooked in sustainability strategies.

The reality is, carbon offsetting can include all of the aforementioned elements and at very least, be a key pillar of a well-rounded sustainability strategy.

There is an ever-growing trend in the uptake of voluntary carbon offsets and for those responsible for the energy, sustainability and CSR of an organisation, this can prove to be a valuable part of the impact your efforts will make.

For every organisation, public or private, the question of how to achieve carbon neutrality, or a ‘net zero’ carbon footprint, is now at the forefront.

In the last 6 months alone, several local authorities have joined many other private sector organisations in acknowledging that there is a climate emergency and now is a pivotal time to decide how they will tackle this.

Climate and Sustainable Development experts ClimateCare, a leading organisation in this market, are among those offering Carbon Offsetting solutions. As a leader in global carbon markets and climate change, they helped shape the first voluntary carbon markets and pioneered the use of carbon finance for community-based development projects.

For those who are unfamiliar with offsetting, Peter Ryde, Marketing Director at ClimateCare explains:

Offsetting at its most basic, is a step by step process with a hierarchy of actions. To start, businesses, will need to measure their emissions to understand what their footprint is. Once they understand what this footprint looks like, they must define clear targets and then avoid what they can (such as non-essential air travel), and of course reduce what they can’t completely eliminate (such as energy use). However it’s often hard to reduce emissions, residual emissions, that offsetting can balance so you can take full responsibility for your climate impacts. This involves  financing an equivalent amount of emissions reductions outside of the business”.

Peter explains that ClimateCare work with “multiple companies, of all sizes, that have pledged to achieve carbon neutrality and designs and develop high quality carbon neutral programmes that meet a business objective and have integrity and rigor.

Peter believes achieving net zero by 2030 is indeed possible “if you are well informed and dedicated to the cause”. Every meaningful effort counts, and carbon offsetting can be a key aspect of any sustainability strategy.

When thinking of offsetting, one may be led to think this is something relevant only for medium to large scale corporations or public authorities. Peter stresses how all “businesses need to take responsibility for their entire carbon footprint in order to achieve a carbon neutrality . Anything less than that is not a responsible position for a business today”.

As a boutique Clean Energy and Environmental Recruitment Specialist, Climate17 have recently offset all their Scope 1 and Scope 2 emissions, working with ClimateCare as part of their Sustainability Strategy.

As a business, Climate17 wanted to contribute in a small way to supporting projects that cut carbon emissions and improved the lives of people in some of the world’s poorest communities.

Climate17 are also now looking at using offsetting more regularly to offset any travel emissions for their candidates attending interview with clients.

David Blake, one of Climate17’s founders, felt this was “a necessary step to act in line with our values as a responsible organisation”.

If you integrate with the right offsetting partner, the direct impact you can have as an organisation can be directly attributed to your contribution. Peter Ryde at ClimateCare goes on to say that, although he has only recently joined the company, he is enjoying ClimateCare’s varied work, which involves working with major public and private sector clients to fund sustainable development projects that reduce carbon emissions at scale, measurably increase quality of life and deliver towards the UN Global Goals.

ClimateCare work with a wide range of projects, both in the UK and internationally, many of which are entirely exclusive. To be able to communicate that your organisation is supporting projects relating to reforestation, clean energy, food, clean water and sanitation is beneficial for your companies profile both internally and externally. 

You also have the benefit of choice and the projects you get involved in can be bespoke to your business. It goes without saying, if you want to truly align yourselves to the UN SDGs, genuinely see a direct and fast impact from your investment, as well as be able to use all of this to demonstrate a strong CSR initiative, this is an excellent option.

Whilst considering the inclusion of an offsetting partner in your strategy, you should not lose sight of the bigger picture during this very surreal time. Let’s not to forget, that even amidst the current pandemic; Climate Change isn’t going to disappear. Peter Ryde makes a valid point that “prior to COVID-19, awareness of the effects of climate change were increasing. It’s up to all of us to take responsibility to fight the climate crisis as we would the pandemic, as such global collaboration will be required in much the same way. The past few weeks have seen Governments throughout the world collaborate to fight a global pandemic and we hope to see a similar mindset with regards to carbon neutrality too”.