Offsetting or going carbon neutral

No room for greenwashing

Offsetting emissions by financing clean energy projects has generated significant interest from companies aware of the need to be seen to be doing something to address (carbon dioxide) CO2 emissions.
Offsetting therefore needs clarification to ensure it does not simply enable greenwashing  rather than bringing about a real benefit to the climate.

The most important point is that offsetting should be part of a company’s (or person’s) drive to become carbon-neutral. This means that the company avoids net carbon emissions.

Becoming carbon neutral

To become carbon neutral, an organisation needs to undertake 5 steps:
  1. Assess the current emissions – from travel, heating and cooling, production, etc.
  2. Avoid – identify all activities causing emissions that can be avoided; e.g. replace some travel by video conferencing, install combined heat and power systems etc.
  3. Improve efficiency of energy use to reduce CO2 emissions further.
  4. Offset – only the unavoidable emissions can be offset through investment in Gold Standard projects.
  5. Review – Review the strategy annually to avoid more emissions and become more efficient every year, and step by step decrease the amount of CO2 emissions that need to be offset. The target should be to reduce offset to zero over time.

Where can offset investments go

In principle offset investments can go into Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) projects under the Kyoto Protocol. Or they can go into voluntary projects.

For both, WWF has helped set up the Gold Standard.
 / ©: WWF-Canon / Martin Hiller
WWF presents financial report on power industry at the London Stock Exchange.
© WWF-Canon / Martin Hiller

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