Companies Going Carbon Neutral

The latest buzz for companies these days is going “Carbon Neutral”. Yahoo, Salesforce.com, and others have announced their commitment to become carbon neutral. Basically, the idea is that if you’re going to be producing carbon dioxide, offset the production by engaging in efforts that reduce carbon dioxide. The David Suzuki Foundation describes as follows:

Climate change is a serious problem, caused primarily by the carbon dioxide released from burning fossil fuels like oil, coal, and gas. But there are things we can do about it – like choosing to go carbon neutral.

Going carbon neutral is an easy way to take responsibility for the greenhouse gas emissions we create every time we drive our cars, take a plane, or turn on our computers. It’s based on the principle that, since climate change is a global problem, an emission reduction made elsewhere has the same positive effect as one made locally.

Here’s how it works: if you add polluting emissions to the atmosphere, you can effectively subtract them by purchasing ‘carbon offsets’. Carbon offsets are simply credits for emission reductions achieved by projects elsewhere, such as wind farms, solar installations, or energy efficiency projects. By purchasing these credits, you can apply them to your own emissions and reduce your net climate impact.

The concept of “carbon offsets” has created an industry in itself. The CarbonNeutral Company is one of the world’s leading carbon offset and climate consulting businesses, set up in the early 1990s . Their website outlines the following core services:

Carbon offset: We source and supply carbon offsets from worldwide technology and forestry projects. Our portfolio includes all types of offset (VER, CER etc) acrredited to a range of standards (Gold Standard, VCS etc). The final choice of offset is determined by a client brief. Over the past decade, we have purchased credits from over 170 projects covering 5 continents, and current projects range from an award-winning solar lighting system in rural India, to large scale wind farm in New Zealand.

Climate-Consulting: measurement, reduction, strategy: Our team of people have unique mix of backgrounds and skills in consulting, retail, IT, carbon trading, aviation, transport, finance, construction, marketing. We can provide the resources to help clients to understand their carbon risk, and work through a reduction, avoidance and offset programme to meet agreed commercial objectives.

Marketing services: Communication is part of our DNA. We’re able to partner with clients and their agencies to convert climate change activity into compelling propositions, programmes and materials. In-depth knowledge of international developments within the carbon and environmental market informs our ideas, and projects have included communications strategy workshops, original research, film proposals, e-communications tools, staff incentives and promotional launch items.

The concept of having corporations go carbon neutral seems like a great step forward. Given our current dependencies on fossil fuels and the limitations of current technologies, we won’t see companies eliminate carbon in our lifetime but this pushes companies into the right direction.

Over the next few years, the investment in sustainable technologies will explode and we’ll see a huge jump in innovation. In the meantime, don’t forget to plant a tree.

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