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.
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.
Andrea stresses that offsetting is
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.