Offsetting Companies = Greener Companies?

A new survey is out at the moment, run by the UNFCCC and the International Carbon Reduction & Offset Alliance (or ICROA for short), to look into the drivers behind corporates voluntarily offsetting their carbon footprint.  Imperial College London are running the survey and I’d recommend that you have your say.

For me it is quite clear – it’s about taking responsibly for your own carbon footprint.  If we all did that then climate change would be a lot easier to deal with.  While many companies that do offset do have this as their central reason, many use offsetting as a business driver, with green marketing and staff engagement all sound reasons.  As far as the planet is concerned, as long as action is taken, emissions reduced and resources use prudently then other drivers are secondary.

The favourite bit of mud to throw at carbon offsetting is that it gives companies licence to carry on polluting, pretty damming statement hey? Er, no.  The irony is that this is exactly the opposite.  The report by Ecosystems Marketplace “The Bottom Line: Taking Stock of the Role of Offsets in Corporate Carbon Strategies” showed that companies that take action and offset their emissions are more likely to take action on reducing emissions and energy usage compared on non offsetters.

  • offset buyers slashed their direct emissions by almost 17%, while non-buyers only reduced emissions by less than 5%.
  • offset buyers were more engaged in direct emission reduction activities compared to non-offset buyers.

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It would be too simplistic to say all offsetting companies are green companies; but from the look of it, they are a lot greener than those that do not….

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UNFCCC launches new “Climate Neutral Now” Campaign

This week has seen the launch of “Climate Neutral Now”, a new initiative launched by the United Nations climate change secretariat that encourages individuals and organizations to measure their climate footprint, reduce their emissions as much as possible and then offset their remaining emissions.

One of the aspirations at the UNFCCC is to socialize the concept of a climate neutral society. Science tells us that however ambitious the emission reductions we agree on in Paris may be, we need to achieve a climate neutral society in the second half of this century if we are to avoid the worst impacts of climate change

The campaign has been sprinkled with some Hollywood star dust, with celebrities like Edward Norton and Vivienne Westwood and champion companies like Microsoft, Adidas, Sony and Marks & Spencer join the UNFCCC to call on everyone to join Climate Neutral Now.

To get on the path to managing your carbon emissions and become Carbon Zero visit our website or log on to http://ClimateNeutralNow.org

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Going beyond carbon saving – how companies like Hill Dickinson are making a big impact to communities in Kenya

Our Abardares Improved Cook Stove Project is located to the north of Nairobi in Kenya, and has been well supported for many years by Hill Dickinson – the first law firm to offset their carbon footprint to become CarbonZero.

Our team in Kenya went to visit the region and interviewed over 30 Carbon Zero Kenya stove beneficiaries as part of the annual site visit. One family in particular made a lasting impression on the team, as they introduced their 103 year old grandmother. Still in excellent health, she was eager to explain how the stove had improved her wellbeing, mentioning that because it is more efficient than a traditional three stone fire, she did not have to spend as much time collecting wood.  Furthermore, she gave us a full demonstration of the way she likes to stoke the stove while cooking Ugali, a local staple food made from ground maize.

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This is one of many great examples of how organisations like Hill Dickinson have made such an impression, not only to the environment, but to the locally communities throughout Kenya.

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Kaptagat Case Study: A safer & cleaner way of cooking

Community involvement is an important part of the way we work, and our Kenya Team are often visiting the villages and towns where run our projects to talk to families about their new stoves.  Recently, Virginia Njeri, one of our Regional Coordinators visited our stove project in Kaptagat and spoke to Mrs. Sharon Kibor, here is her story:

In Flax Centre of Marichor location in Kaptagat hails Mrs. Sharon Kibor. She lives with her husband and their two children.

Mrs Kibor is a farmer and is a beneficiary of a cook stove from Carbon Zero Kenya Ltd. Having used the cook stove for two years, she was delighted to narrate her experience to us.

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In her own words she says,”It is a personal testimony; I adore the stove not because you are here, but because I have tasted the good of its benefits. Earlier on, I used my traditional chepkube which consumed a lot of wood; the smoke choked my child who also developed an eyes ailment. I never thought of an alternative until I acquired the Carbon Zero Stove.

“I now have no worry staying with my child in the kitchen while cooking since the stove does not produce as much smoke. I also have time for my business and this has helped me join merry-go-rounds to increase on my savings. Serving my family a good meal prepared in a smoke free environment lights up my day. That’s the joy of every woman who loves and cares for her family.”

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Mrs Kibor is therefore grateful to Carbon Zero Kenya and CO2balance for helping conserve the environment through availing the energy efficient cook stoves which has helped improve life in her community.

Many thanks goes to Virginia Njeri in telling us this story and for Mrs. Sharon Kibor for her time providing us with this feedback about the project.

 

Getting ready for ESOS

Some you may be aware of the Government’s new Energy Saving Opportunity Scheme (ESOS), which forces “large undertakings” to audit their energy usages and report them to the Environment Agency.

The concept is that through activity managing your energy usage it will open up your eyes to potential areas of energy savings, which has the “double whammy” of saving money as well as carbon emissions.

ESOS has been created in response the EU Energy Efficiency Directive (2012/27/EU).  In layman’s terms it is an assessment of your energy consumption, so very much like the Greenhouse Gas Audits that we regularly carry out for our clients.

You have to comply if you are a “large undertaking”, meaning that you….

  • employ at least 250 persons; or
  • employ fewer than 250 persons but has an annual turnover in excess of 50 million euro and an annual balance sheet in excess of 43 million euro

You need to submit your data to the Environment Agency by 5th December 2015, but as ever preparation is vital and it is important to start looking at the way you collect and manage your data as soon as possible.

As ever with new schemes such as this there are lots of holes that need to be finalised and definitions to be clarified; we’ll post more articles on the scheme as they are made public, along with more information about how we can support you to ensure that you are fully complaint – if you have any queries in the meantime then please get in touch.

Beyond carbon offsetting – the additional benefits of impact carbon

Offsetting one tonne of carbon dioxide brings an additional $664 in benefits to the communities where carbon reduction projects are based, according to research published today.

The research, carried out by Imperial College London in partnership with the International Carbon Reduction and Offsetting Alliance (ICROA), demonstrates how purchasing carbon credits creates economic development opportunities, aids environmental conservation and helps improve people’s lives by delivering household savings, health benefits and improving water resources, among other social benefits.

The amount of carbon reduced by such projects has been rigorously measured and independently verified for many years, but to date there has not been academic research conducted to measure and value the impact of investing in carbon offset programmes beyond reducing emissions. This research finds that each tonne of carbon reduced has additional benefits – such as poverty alleviation, infrastructure development and nature conservation – worth  $664, meaning that businesses which are voluntarily offsetting their emissions are having a bigger impact than perceived.

Projects such as CO2balance's Improved Cook Stoves, provide social and health benefits as well as carbon saving.

Projects such as CO2balance’s Improved Cook Stoves in Kenya and Rwanda, provide social and health benefits as well as carbon saving.

The findings of the study also demonstrate that businesses with offsetting programmes report corporate benefits such as enhanced brand image, engaged employees and market differentiation.

“The voluntary carbon market is a smart opportunity for businesses to consider as part of their sustainability strategies,” says ICROA Programme Director, Sophy Greenhalgh. “This research demonstrates offset programmes deliver numerous business objectives, such as employee engagement and resource efficiency savings, and make a positive contribution to local communities in addition to reducing emissions.”

“By utilising latest natural capital accounting methodologies, we have been able to demonstrate the impact offset projects are delivering on the ground,” says Yiannis Kountouris, an environmental economist at Imperial College.

Better identification and measurement of the extra social benefits of buying carbon credits could encourage more governments, companies and individuals to invest in projects that make a real difference to communities around the world, whilst reducing dangerous carbon emissions, finds the report.   To download a copy of the report please follow this link on the ICROA website

The stove and borehole projects that we run in Africa are a perfect example of going beyond carbon saving, providing quantifiable impacts to the community – please contact us for more information about how you and your company can make these impacts.

 

The importance of bridging the gap between reality and myth on climate change

I have always taken it for granted that a scientific consensus on man made climate change was a given, a fact.  So I was somewhat taken back by a new survey that has just been released that showed a massive gap between this fact and public perception.

It is not that people don’t believe in man made climate change, far from it, but the survey showed that a large percentage of people think that there is no common consensus by climate scientists, even though there are numerous studies to show that over 90% of climate scientists believe in man made climate change.

The survey also showed a mis match between actual support for renewables and public perception, with few being aware of just how strongly the public support renewables such as solar and wind.

It shows that the majority need to stand up for what they believe in and not be afraid of the deniers who threaten the action that is needed on climate change; as well as Governments and other organisations to take stronger action if we are ever going to bridge this gap between reality and myth.

 

Survey carried out by ComRes in August 2014 commissioned by new not-for-profit organisation the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit (ECIU):

– 47% believe that most climate scientists reject the idea that scientists are evenly split on the issue. 

– Only 5% of Britons know that renewables such as solar and wind are supported by a significant majority (about 80 percent) of the UK population.

– Two-thirds (63%) estimate support for renewables at under 50%. 
Source:

Edie.net

Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit