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Going carbon neutral can be realised more easily and cost-effectively than many firms might imagine

Release date: 28 August 2018

 
 
Carbon neutrality can be an affordable and achievable objective of any company’s emission-reduction plan. Alongside the clear environmental benefits, there is a strong business case for cutting your net carbon footprint to zero.
 
“The time to get involved in meeting the climate challenge is now. The United Nations’ Paris agreement of 2015 sets out how we must permanently reduce global emissions – and companies need to investigate how to be part of the solution,” Andrea argues. “Firms aiming to become carbon neutral and/or develop carbon-neutral goods and services usually make efficiency savings in the process, while also boosting their reputations. What’s more, going carbon neutral doesn’t have to be daunting – it’s a pretty simple step to take.”

 

To achieve this status, a business must measure its total carbon footprint, commit to a reduction plan and then offset any residual emissions. The offsetting process works on the principle that, for each tonne of greenhouse gas a firm emits, the equivalent emission can be averted or removed elsewhere by purchasing carbon credits issued by offsetting projects around the world, such as reforestation programmes or renewable-energy schemes.

Andrea Abrahams
BP Target Neutral’s Global Director, Andrea Abrahams says the benefits of carbon-neutral goods, services or even organisations can be realised more easily and cost-effectively than many firms might imagine.

First emerging after the Kyoto protocol on climate change was agreed in 1997, offsetting has had its critics. Some companies may remain sceptical about its effectiveness, but Andrea believes that “it’s a tool that’s come of age. Offsetting is a well-managed and carefully monitored process with lots of safeguards, so people should feel assured that a carbon credit represents a genuine emission reduction.

 

 

“Offset standards have also continued to improve. More and more people in the industry now know what ‘good’ looks like, while there is help from associations such as the not-for profit International Carbon Reduction and Offset Alliance, which has established a code of best practice.”

 

 

A holistic approach

Andrea stresses that offsetting is

 

“one of a number of tools that a company should use to achieve carbon neutrality."

 

To permanently cut your firm’s emissions, it’s first vital to tackle all major sources across its operations. That might involve initiatives such as improving its energy efficiency and switching to a renewable supplier. Many firms will reach a point where they mistakenly think that they can’t take things any further until more effective or affordable technology becomes available – but they can, because offsetting is always available.

 

What’s more, it’s affordable. The average offset cost across the BP Target Neutral portfolio this year is about £3 per tonne of CO2 equivalent and investing in offsetting projects can benefit local communities in many ways. These include the creation of jobs, the reduction of poverty and ill-health, and the promotion of gender equality.

 

Last but not least, carbon-neutral status can serve as a powerful marketing tool, while the process of achieving it can drive down costs.

 

Andrea says.

 

“It’s a relatively affordable way to differentiate your company from its rivals. Consumers are becoming increasingly interested in low-carbon and carbon-neutral offerings, so this can boost the power of your brand,” she says. “Working towards the long-term goal of carbon neutrality will, through an increase in energy efficiency and a reduction in waste, almost certainly take cost out of a business.”