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07 Dec 2021

10 myths around Net Zero and carbon offsetting busted

Simona Sdao

There is no escaping the facts. Every business journey to Net Zero has to include carbon offsetting. This is the most effective and immediate step a business can take to rapidly improve their carbon footprint. However, many businesses are still reluctant when it comes to offsetting and this is because of the many misconceptions surrounding the subject. 

We spoke to ClimateCare to share and demystify the 10 reasons that are currently stopping many business owners from offsetting their carbon emissions.

1. Offsetting won’t tackle climate change

Offsetting alone isn't the solution to climate change, but it certainly helps a lot!

While everyone is focused on moving to a low-carbon world, it is important to remember that this is a process that takes time, and this is something we don’t have anymore. 

Reducing carbon emissions through offsetting is a very effective way to take responsibility for our carbon footprint today, providing immediate results whilst also buying the time required to develop new processes and technology that will permanently reduce this use of carbon.

2. We just need to reduce our carbon footprint, not cut emissions

Not all carbon emissions can be reduced, and this is when carbon offsetting comes into play. Even the most careful and conscious individual is responsible for at least SOME carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases going into the atmosphere. The only way to take responsibility for those unavoidable emissions is by ensuring that an equivalent amount of carbon is either absorbed, or avoided elsewhere, through carbon offsetting. In short, we need to do both. 

3. Carbon offsetting should be a step by step process

In order to successfully offset your carbon, you first need to measure and disclose your emissions and set a realistic and achievable, science-based target for reduction. Once this first step has been done, the key is to  drive action simultaneously and at pace, and then modify and adjust moving forward rather than proceeding one step at the time. 

4. Carbon offsetting is just a guilt free way to carry on emitting

Climate change is a global emergency, and as such it needs to be addressed in any possible way. Businesses who offset emissions are putting a voluntary tax on their carbon pollution that will only increase over time. That’s a highly effective way to keep the focus of the whole business on reducing this expense through reduction. In fact, research shows that the typical offset buyer cut almost 17% of their scope 1 (direct) emissions, while the typical non-offset buyer reduced scope 1 emissions by less than 5% in the same year.

5. Going climate neutral is just for CSR 

CSR certainly does play a crucial role in increasing public awareness of climate change, however, in the past 18 months this has started to be seen more as a business-critical issue than merely social responsibility. Indeed, becoming climate neutral has been demonstrated to build customer confidence in your brand, improve staff engagement, deliver business growth opportunities, build resilience in supply chains, support growth in key markets and help to launch new products and services.

6. Offsetting is too expensive

Polluting our planet can be done at no cost, and this is why it is such a hard phenomenon to stop. Companies that choose to offset are voluntarily putting a price on their emissions, and this is what keeps their focus on reducing them as much as possible. From this perspective, there is a strong argument that offsetting is not expensive ENOUGH. The more a company is forced to pay for its emissions, the quicker it will find solutions to avoid the extra cost.

7. We’re all working from home now, so our footprint is low

This is a misconception we have already widely addressed: going digital does not necessarily mean going  greener. Streaming, sending emails, running video calls, storing data and updating social media are all practices that still have an impact on our planet. You can learn more on how you can reduce your digital carbon footprint here, or learn directly how leading digital businesses have reached or are working towards reaching net zero here

8. There are no carbon reduction projects we can support in the UK

In the UK, as in the rest of the world, there are many carbon reduction projects available. The only downside of these projects is that they take many years to produce verified carbon reductions, and so require more up-front funding, which carries increased risk. However, supporting carbon reduction in the developing world has multiple benefits. It is often a cost effective way to reduce global carbon emissions and it channels funding to projects that deliver social impact, sustainable development and help communities adapt to the effects of climate change.

9. My business is too small to offset

Any individual can play their part in fighting climate change, and the same applies to organisations, no matter their size. The UK Government has pledged to achieve Net Zero by 2050, with many corporations committing to an even more ambitious 2030 deadline. To make sure that the UK keeps to its commitments and that the climate crisis won’t reach a point of no return, everyone needs to play its part in achieving Net Zero as soon as possible.

10. Going climate neutral is the same as Net Zero

Being climate neutral means to be in a state of net-zero carbon dioxide emissions. This does not mean to have cut all kinds of emissions, but to have achieved a good enough balance between produced and saved emissions. Differently, being Net Zero does not imply balance: while you can be climate neutral by emitting and saving the same amount of emissions, you become net zero only once you emit less than what you save. So going climate neutral is just a temporary state in which companies should be until the time they are able to reach their net zero target. 

To conclude

In busting these myths, we hope to empower businesses of all sizes, to take responsibility for their climate impacts. We ask them to step up and not only pledge their support, but also to take action today. You can read the full article and more stories by Climate Care here.

You can take action today with Reset Connect by getting involved in our 2022 event. Reset Connect London 2022 will be the UK’s largest sustainability ecosystem and ESG investment gathering which will address how present & future net-zero innovation & technology is going to be paid for and implemented.

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