Smarter Business: Greening Advisor
Offsetting carbon emissions from travel
It is sometimes not possible for employees to bike to work or ride public transportation every day. And while hybrid cars are more fuel efficient than the average car, they still run partly on gasoline and therefore emit carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. So in the near term, your company will likely continue to have a meaningful carbon footprint. Your company may want to consider reducing the net carbon emissions associated with its transportation needs by purchasing carbon offsets. When your company buys a carbon offset, it is investing in a project—such as new renewable solar or wind energy projects—that will yield a measurable reduction in future greenhouse gas emissions. Consider developing a relationship with an offset provider in order to make offset credits available for purchase at the office.
However, carbon offsets should not be the first option when attempting to improve the environmental profile of the transportation your business uses. Before purchasing offsets, implement other initiatives to promote environmentally superior forms of transportation such as walking, bicycling, public transit, carpools and the use of high fuel-efficiency vehicles. Arrange for meetings to occur locally, or use teleconferences or videoconferences to avoid air travel where possible.
Green-e and the California Climate Action Registry have recently launched certification programs to ensure the environmental quality of carbon offsets. We recommend offsets that meet the Green-e Climate Protocol for Renewable Energy and any of the CCAR protocols. However, it is still useful to ask providers what type of projects they invest in, how they ensure that these investments deliver additional environmental benefits, and whether the projects have negative environmental impacts.
What Are Carbon Offsets?
Greenhouse gas offsets are investments in projects that avoid, capture or sequester emissions of greenhouse gases. When your company buys an offset, it is investing in a new project that will cause a quantifiable decrease in greenhouse gas emissions. Examples of such projects include renewable energy projects, such as solar and wind power, and the capture of methane at agricultural or waste facilities.
Offsets are not a first step. Avoid air travel when possible by arranging for meetings to occur locally, or use teleconferences or videoconferences.
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