Carbon offsetting allows you to take 100% responsibility for your emissions – today.
- no organisation or individual can avoid emitting greenhouse gases
- even with the most determined efforts to cut emissions some will still remain, so causing climate change
- we can choose to ignore this or we can take responsibility for them
- one way of doing so is to ensure that a same amount of carbon is either absorbed, or avoided being emitted, elsewhere
- this can be achieved by financing renewable energy or energy efficiency projects to replace the need for fossil fuels, or by conserving or planting forests, to absorb carbon from the atmosphere.
- this is carbon offsetting – taking responsibility for 100% of your emissions, today.
Carbon Offsetting in Practice
Carbon offsetting is the funding of an activity outside of one’s own organisation that reduces emissions elsewhere, by the same amount as the emissions that need to be offset. Some see carbon offsetting as philanthropy where money is donated to help the environment. We prefer to see it as “waste management”, where you pay someone to carry out the service of dealing with your carbon waste, under the strict monitoring criteria of international carbon standards and protocols.
Raising the Standard
There are more than 20 carbon standards on the voluntary market today but only a few have emerged as widely respected, most notably the Gold Standard (GS) and Verified Carbon Standard (VCS). Each of these standards is endorsed by ICROA and includes tough verification elements to address issues such as additionality (if the sale of carbon credits was really needed to get the project off the ground). The standard used determines what type of carbon offset, or carbon credit, is generated by the emision reduction project. One carbon credit is always equal to one ton of CO2 avoided or reduced elsewhere.
Further assurance is provided by the carbon standard’s asssociated ‘registry’- an electronic bank for carbon credits. The biggest registry in the voluntary market is Markit. Registries allocate unique serial numbers to each project and each tonne of CO2 reduction achieved and keep records of all the purchases. Offsets are tracked for life, traded securely and ‘retired’ permanently. So in this way they cannot be sold twice. Registries are vital for a transparent carbon market.
Offsetting in South Africa
Perceptions of carbon offsetting vary widely across the globe. In South Africa there is less awareness about the mechanism of offsetting and its associated benefits but interest in the concept is rapidly increasing. This is because companies are realising that offsetting is a effective tool to cut their emissions cost-effectively and at the same time benefit communities. Furthermore, under the proposed carbon tax to be implemented in 2017, companies may lower their tax liability by purchasing offset from South African projects.
To find out how carbon offsetting can work for your business contact Nishanthi Lambrichs on email@example.com or call 021-202 6067