Are you ready to go Carbon Neutral?

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Did you know that there has been a 14% growth in the carbon market in the last year? This was one of the impressive facts we discovered yesterday at the Go Green Going Carbon Neutral Workshop, kindly hosted by BPP. A team of experts who supported DAS UK on its Carbon Neutral journey shared with us the the myths, facts, the challenges and the rewards of going Carbon Neutral.

Take home messages from the workshop

1. Data can be a burden

Don’t take on the challenge of Carbon Neutrality lightly! Carbon offsetting requires good data management. You will need to collate all your data so that you can measure your energy use in order to calculate your carbon dioxide equivalent emissions (CO2). So it’s best to start collecting together old invoices and statements, and ask your taxi firm to record trip mileage sooner rather than later!

2. Do your research

With a fast growing carbon market, there is an ever growing choice of schemes. Make sure you research what your money will be invested in. Wind farm schemes typically only receive 5 or 6% of their finance from carbon offset schemes, whereas community projects are 100% dependent on finance like yours and have many additional benefits. By choosing an International Carbon Reduction and Offset Alliance (ICROA) member to manage your offsetting process, you can be reassured that your offset provider will be following a code of best practice.

3. If done properly, going carbon neutral could be the cornerstone of your CSR policy

Whilst carbon offsetting can be portrayed in a negative light, aiming for carbon neutral means an organisation will be measuring, monitoring and reducing its carbon footprint much more closely than they might otherwise have, and helps to drive the activity around sustainability. To maximise this, it is important to ensure that your carbon offset is invested in schemes that are in line with your company ethos. Talk to your offset provider about what you want to achieve and how this might align with your sustainability indicators. For example, if your company sells or provides tea, are there any projects which could support communities in the regions where your tea is grown?

4. Think of it as a ‘social impact project’, which goes beyond carbon

Carbon offsetting projects have the potential to have numerous positive impacts beyond simply reducing the amount of carbon dioxide that makes it into the atmosphere. For example, investing in energy efficient cook stoves for families in developing countries typically reduces smoke inhalation by 70%, which has immediate health benefits. The more efficient stoves reduce the amount of wood burned, so time spent walking to collect wood fuel (a task often carried out by women) is reduced – helping to improve gender inequality and free up women’s time for other activities. Furthermore, this reduces pressure on forest ecosystems, safeguarding habitats for wildlife.

5. Getting your board of directors on side could be a challenge, but appealing to their interests can open a strong dialogue

There are potential risks as well as opportunities associated with going Carbon Neutral, so it is worth considering these in the context of your organisation. Think about how to communicate these messages with senior managers so that the benefits appeal to their area of expertise. For finance directors it is worth noting that companies investing in carbon offsetting also typically reduce their emissions more than those that don’t, thereby making more financial savings from energy reduction.

6.There may still be a stigma attached to going Carbon Neutral, but on balance it could be a really positive step

Be transparent with your data and explain why you are including or excluding certain items from the scope of your calculations. Produce a clear internal message on why you are going carbon neutral, and be ready to address skepticism from staff. Choosing the Gold Standard for carbon offsets means that you are buying offsets that have demonstrated at least four co-benefits linked to the United Nations sustainability goals, and are supported by over 100 Non-governmental Organisations (NGOS).

Thank you to our members who joined us at the workshop, representing such a wide range of organisations. It was great to receive this email from one of them afterwards:

“Hi Go Green, I’d just like to say thank you for organising such an interesting and useful workshop this morning.  Great that you kept it all running to time as well.

 The range of topics and the level of detail was just right for what we wanted and hoped for.  And the presenters were very knowledgeable.

 I’m sure what we learnt will speed us up towards our goal of becoming carbon neutral.”

We’re happy the workshop was useful! Here are all the speakers’ slides so anyone who couldn’t join us can find out more what going carbon neutral involves. Good luck!

Slides from speakers

Mark Whiteley from Concern For Carbon

Kirsti Norris from Action for Sustainability

Jim O’Shaughnessy, Social Forestry and Sustainability Consultant

Paul Chiplin from CO2 Balance

DAS-UK Case Study

Pukka Herbs Case Study