You may have noticed that carbon offsets have been popping up a bit in the news lately and there’s been some debate about whether they’re still worth investing in.
The issue has been swirling around mainly because of reports about “greenwashing” by large companies in Australia and abroad. For some context, greenwashing is the broad term used to describe when a company markets itself or its products as being environmentally-friendly, while in fact a large percentage of their revenue is still achieved from activities that impact the environment.
Most recently, some of Australia’s biggest companies have been accused of ‘greenwashing’ by talking up their net zero emissions targets to win them some public relations kudos, without having any firm plans in place to replace their reliance on coal power to 100% renewable energy.
You can read more about the issue in this article from Business Insider – Australian companies are ‘greenwashing’ their zero emissions commitments, according to a new Greenpeace report.
So these stories have led to many people questioning whether we’re too reliant on carbon offsetting as a way to hold off any real action on ditching fossil fuels.
WHY SHOULD I BUY OFFSETS?
As we’ve already touched on in our beginner’s guide to carbon offsets, carbon offsets are never going to be the 100% solution to any organisation’s carbon reduction mission. Your primary goal should always be to directly eliminate and reduce your emissions wherever that’s possible and practical for your business.
But that doesn’t mean offsets aren’t still important in achieving your overall sustainability targets.
Offsets should be seen as a lever that can be pulled as a temporary fix for a problem you need a little bit more time to resolve. Without offsetting these emissions, you’re going to struggle to hit your targets as you continue working on your long-term solution.
So, yes you should buy offsets. But, no that’s not all you should do. They’re just a piece of a much bigger puzzle.
For a bit more reading about offsets and whether they stack up, we recommend checking out this article by ABC Science – Offsetting your emissions: Greenwashing or a win for the environment?
WHAT IS A CO-BENEFIT?
As an added bonus to purchasing carbon offsets, there are some other advantages of offsets that go beyond just carbon emissions reduction. These are often referred to as co-benefits.
Co-benefits include other positive outcomes that come about as a result of a carbon offset project, and can include things like community development, water and air quality improvement, soil health, biodiversity and conservation, and more.
HOW DO I BUY CARBON OFFSETS?
The Australian Government’s Clean Energy Regulator is a great place to start. They oversee everything to do with carbon offsets in Australia, so you’ll be able to see what certified projects are available and read all the nuts and bolts about how the market works.
If you’re looking at getting started with purchasing some offsets, we recommend land-based restoration projects that remove carbon from the atmosphere through sequestration, particularly forestry and soil carbon. We can organise the purchase of high quality offsets on your behalf, just get in touch.
- Kick start your company’s sustainability program with The Groundwork Guidebook
- Find your starting point by measuring your impact
- Dig a little deeper with this in-depth analysis of carbon offsets from The Guardian
- Explore some carbon offset projects that are making a difference now
- Read about soil carbon and what role it can play in reducing emissions in this article by The Guardian