Carbon compensation schemes empower businesses to accelerate the transition towards a low carbon future. Offsetting carbon emissions can furthermore send a strong message to stakeholders such as customers, employees and communities that your business is committed to paving the way for a sustainable future.
But not every carbon compensation program generates the same positive impact. And often, carbon compensation is merely regarded as a “feel-good” solution. So what can businesses do to credibly offset the emissions they cannot reduce?
Carbon compensation through the Gold Standard
One way in which businesses can offset their unavoidable emissions is through the Gold Standard. The Gold Standard has issued more than 125 million carbon credits from nearly 700 projects, based in more than 60 different countries. The Standard originates from the principle that climate action cannot be one-dimensional. Accordingly, climate projects must deliver meaningful sustainable development benefits beyond emission reductions.
From sustainable timber production to biodiversity conservation and renewable energy plants, the Gold Standard offers a diverse range of projects. Gold Standard certified offsets are audited according to the rules provided in the Kyoto protocol and must also show social benefits for local communities.
Offsets with these kind of standards offer extra credibility. Nevertheless, that still does not make them fool-proof.
Critique on carbon compensation
Even if offsetting projects work as they are advertised, some crititcs argue that they are still not a good idea. Businesses would do better by focusing on reducing emissions rather than offsetting their corporate carbon footprint. “Compensation is only the third best option – after avoidance and reduction,” says atmosfair CEO Dietrich Brockhagen. Businesses should therefore be aware that offsetting emissions does not justify a business-as-usual procedure.
Instead, compensation and forestation projects should make us more aware of a corporate carbon footprint. And offsetting does indeed have a mitigating impact – once a business has taken its path to avoid and reduce emissions whenever possible.
Since 1999, DFGE experts have been providing support in the calculation of greenhouse gas balances for companies or individual products. DFGE’s top-down approach enables a quick and cost-effective determination of greenhouse gas emissions.