Reducing your carbon footprint is a common goal for many individuals in this millennium. Because of its importance, it is becoming increasingly paramount to organizations as well. Understanding all things carbon emissions and how to approach them can be an effective aspect of developing a business strategy that will succeed for years to come.
What does it mean to offset carbon emissions and why should it be the last strategy? In simple terms, offsetting carbon emissions is to cut emissions from one area so that they can be released guilt-free in another. It should be the last strategy for organizations because it doesn’t necessarily reduce emissions. Instead, it puts the same amount of emissions somewhere else. The ultimate goal is to reduce all carbon emissions.
Learning how to offset carbon emissions can be helpful in situations where there is no choice but to put out gasses into the atmosphere. However, learning why it should not be the go-to solution is hugely imperative in the mission of reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Eduardo Gomez, with EmitWise, explained why in a recent interview with Open Sourced Workplace.
Gomez discussed how offsetting carbon emissions should always be the last step in an organization’s journey to becoming sustainable. If offsetting is the first step, Gomez believes that carbon emissions can be swept under the rug with no real change. Carbon offsetting can be an important component of sustainability, but companies must work to reduce emissions prior to starting an offsetting program. When the organization is ready to offset their carbon emissions, how exactly do they go about doing that?
There are a number of ways to offset carbon emissions. Planting trees is a common way of doing this, but there are so many more options for organizations to look into. Knowing why planting trees and other offsetting ideas work is important to understand the entire process. It starts by calculating the emissions the organization is releasing and then finding ways to credit the same organization with ways of reducing emissions. For example, if an organization puts out x amount of greenhouse gas emissions, they would need to plant x amount of trees to match those emissions. What other ways might organizations offset released gasses?
Organizations do not typically take on projects all by themselves. Instead, a project is funded by organizations looking to offset their emissions. There are a number of providers that accept donations from various organizations to offset gasses. These providers work on wastewater treatment, projects on clean and renewable energy, solar power, and similar offsetting plans.
With so many options, why is offsetting difficult to take on? One of the complicated parts of offsetting is calculating the exact amount of emissions an organization is giving off. It can get complicated to determine how much gas is released from all three scopes of an organization. Difficulty also comes with the controversial aspect that accompanies many projects. While there are some projects that are welcomed in major aspects, many come with criticisms.
Determining the right project can take a lot of research and time. Because of the effort it takes to choose the best projects for an organization, some use reputable companies that are familiar with several projects to choose from. Even when offsetting is difficult, there are ways to simplify.
Reducing current carbon emissions should come before attempting to offset those emissions. What can be done to reduce emissions? It depends on the type of industry an organization is involved in. One way of reducing greenhouse gas emissions is to cut travel. Not only can reducing travel save money for the business, but it will also serve to cut down released gasses immensely. As transportation accounts for nearly 30% of carbon emissions per year, an organization that aims to decrease travel can make an impact.
Using renewable energy sources can also decrease emissions for your organization. Where fossil fuels like coal, petroleum, and natural gas have the ability to power an organization’s facilities, its use releases gas into the atmosphere. Instead of burning fossil fuels for power, a company might look into solar power, wind turbines, and similar natural sources. By discontinuing - or even decreasing - the use of fossil fuels, an organization can see a great change in reducing their carbon emissions.
Another way to see a decline in carbon emissions is to decrease the amount of waste produced. From paper to product packaging, refilling toner cartridges, and similar changes, a company can strive to become more environmentally friendly and, essentially, a zero-waste facility. To accomplish environmentally-friendly goals, the focus is placed on reducing, reusing, and recycling.
Finally, organizations that inspire others to make a change in their own carbon emissions can have immense reach. Reducing third scope emissions by introducing third party business partners to a new way of doing business can make dents in the overall carbon footprint. Educating employees and customers about the importance of environmentally friendly practices can also be beneficial in a widespread way.
The idea of a carbon footprint is a controversial subject. Scientists have proven that it is a subject that should not be taken lightly. By encouraging organizations to take part in bettering the environment with reduced carbon emissions, the world is more likely to see an improvement over time. The spread of information and inspiration can be a valuable tool in the fight against climate change.
An organization must start by calculating its emissions and working to reduce them. As a final step, the company should look into offsetting its released greenhouse gasses. By accomplishing these steps, an organization has the ability to have a positive impact on the atmosphere and the environment, in general. If we all work together, real progress can be made for future generations and our planet.
1. Should organizations only work with partners that follow the same system of decreasing emissions?
No, doing business with other organizations that only aim to reduce emissions means that other companies will have no incentive to start their own program. The emissions released by a company that has no interest in reducing those emissions will not change. If an organization stays with this partner, there is a greater chance that the company can be talked into an emission reduction program.
2. How might employers get employees interested in reducing their carbon footprint?
Education is the primary way to inspire change in employees. Challenges and other similar workplace events can also help to get employees on board with a reduced carbon footprint.
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