You might have questions about going Carbon Neutral and offsetting your carbon footprint. Here are the most common questions we get, and their answers.
A natural amount of CO2 plays a crucial part in maintaining our ecosystem. However, excess CO2 created by man-made activities such as extracting, refining, transporting and burning fossil fuels emits too much greenhouse gases. This is a form of air pollution that changes the earth’s climate by trapping heat that then disrupts weather patterns and causes global temperatures to rise, which is where we get the term ‘climate change’.
The term ‘carbon emissions’ was coined to describe the amount of CO2 produced by human activity. By measuring ‘carbon emissions’ we can understand the extent of the damage being done to then find rapid solutions that can reverse the impact.
A carbon footprint is the measured total of greenhouse gas produced by something or someone in a given time frame. This could be one person, a single product, an entire country or anything in between. Many organisations have begun to measure their carbon footprint which can include assessing travel, energy consumption and even their supply chains emissions.
The Greenhouse Gas Protocol is a global standardised framework to measure and manage greenhouse gas emissions for organisations, countries and cities. This means that when managing your carbon emissions in line with such recognised standards you can be confident that your results and actions are credible. To find out more about the Greenhouse Gas Protocol, you can visit their website here.
The three scopes are a way of categorising different kinds of carbon emissions a company creates through its wider value chain. This was established by the Greenhouse Gas Protocol to cover both direct and indirect emissions so that organisations gain a full picture of their carbon footprint.
Scope 1 – Direct greenhouse gas emissions that are well within the companies control such as fuel combustion on site, company vehicles and air conditioning, for example.
Scope 2 – Indirect greenhouse gas emissions from purchased utilities such as electricity, steam, heat and cooling.
Scope 3 – As the largest scope of the 3, this includes all emissions associated with the company that you are not directly responsible for within the supply chain. According to the Greenhouse Gas Protocol this contains 15 categories such as purchased goods and services, transportation and distribution, and use of sold products to name a few.
A carbon credit is a certificate that is generated when someone takes action to eliminate one tonne of greenhouse gas emissions. This certificate can be sold to offset carbon emissions produced. The amount of credits necessary to offset the company’s emission will depend on their carbon footprint – i.e how much CO2 was emitted by the organisation. That’s why the first step for companies is to measure their carbon emissions to understand exactly how many credits are required to reach Net Zero. The authenticity and verification of this process is vital to make sure credible and accurate offsetting takes place.
The number of ways to generate a carbon credit is growing. The most common are schemes that include reforestation that sequester CO2 in areas such as South America, Africa and Southeast Asia. The purchaser of an offset credit can retire it so it can’t be reused to claim the underlying reduction towards their greenhouse gas reduction goals. That’s why when buying carbon credits, it’s important to make sure suppliers are following PAS2060, ISO 14064 and Greenhouse Gas Protocol. Other ways to gain carbon credits include emissions avoidance, waste management projects, and renewable energy.
Both are considered key sustainability checkpoints for organisations. Carbon Neutral means you have achieved a balance between emitting and absorbing emissions from the atmosphere through reduction and offsetting methods for both Scopes 1 & 2. The same balance is required to achieve Net Zero Carbon, however this must also include Scope 3 emissions which covers all CO2 from your value chain.
There are key milestones for each decarbonisation journey. As such, each significant point in an organisation’s pursuit to reach Net Zero should be accredited in accordance with a globally recognised standard. It’s important to certify these stages, not only to validate accurate carbon impacts but also to be able to celebrate and communicate this widely to key stakeholders.
We certify several key stages for buildings, products, events and organisations. Learn more about them here.
The first step of measuring your carbon emissions requires a full year of data to understand your carbon footprint. In the second year you are then able to set your goals and continuously measure and reduce your carbon emissions as well as start to purchase offsetting schemes. Reaching the target of Net Zero can take a number of years depending on your carbon footprint which is why you will find many organisations committing to a 2030 target as part of the Paris Agreement.