According to NASA, Earth’s average surface temperature has risen by about 2 degrees Fahrenheit (1 degree Celsius) since the late 19th century, with most of the warming occurring within the past 40 years.
This rapid rise in temperatures has had a number of negative effects on the environment, including the disruption of ecosystems, shrinking ice sheets in Greenland and the Antarctic, rising sea levels, and extreme weather events.
Anthropogenic climate change is now a serious cause of concern for people all around the world. But there’s still time to take climate action. If the rise in the world’s temperatures is kept below 1.5 degrees Celsius, this may allow us to reduce projected losses and limit the damage.
Many individuals and businesses are now taking immediate measures to combat climate change. One of these measures is purchasing “carbon offsets”.
Below, we’ll explore what carbon offsets are, how they work, and how you can get started with carbon offsetting now. But first, let’s dive into a related concept: your carbon footprint.
While many industrial processes emit significant amounts of carbon dioxide, so do day-to-day activities. According to the
CO₂ Human Emissions Project, some human sources of carbon dioxide emissions include cement production, deforestation, and burning fossil fuels (like coal, oil, and natural gas).
The total amount of greenhouse gases generated by a person or organization’s actions is called their “carbon footprint”. Some examples of common activities that contribute to your carbon footprint are
eating meat, using
electricity and heat, and traveling (by plane, train, car, etc.).
The idea is that by purchasing carbon credits (for example, in the form of a donation to an environmental project), you can help with carbon emissions reduction or carbon removal, countering your initial carbon-producing activity and making it "carbon neutral".
In general, there are two types of carbon offsets: voluntary and compliance. Voluntary offsets are purchased by choice to help the environment, while compliance offsets are used to meet legal obligations in regions that use cap-and-trade systems and carbon markets (like the
EU Emissions Trading System).
While carbon offsets are a great way to help the environment, there are many other actions businesses can take to meet their carbon reduction goals. Companies can increase the efficiency of their operations by first making more eco-friendly choices (for example, recycling and reducing waste to avoid sending it to landfills, choosing renewable energy and improving energy efficiency, and using more efficient transport options).
However, even after optimizing for efficiency, you will still have a residual carbon footprint. Carbon offsets can help mitigate the impact of this footprint.
You’ll then need to purchase carbon credits: for example, by donating a fixed amount of money to a nonprofit environmental project. The amount of your donation should correspond to the amount of carbon emissions created by the initial activity. In this way, you’ll have “offset” your own emissions to net zero.
Accurately calculating carbon emissions can be difficult. Luckily, there are software solutions out there that can make the process easier.
TravelPerkis an all-in-one business travel platform where you can book, manage, and report on business travel. The platform offers built-in functionality (such as the
GreenPerk APItool) to help companies understand, lower, and offset their carbon emissions.
If you choose TravelPerk and opt into the GreenPerk program, you’ll be charged for each trip you take at a price of €10 per ton of CO₂e (or the equivalent in your local currency).
Some popular types of climate solution initiatives include forestry (reforestation and tree planting [afforestation]), methane capture, renewable energy projects (such as wind farms or hydroelectric power plants), and direct carbon capture.
Carbon offset projects may take place anywhere in the world. For example,
the projects we’ve selected for GreenPerk are located in Thailand, Cambodia, and Turkey.
Not only are all GreenPerk projects VERRA (Verified Carbon Standard) approved, they’re also hand-selected by our sustainability team. We choose projects based on the UN’s
Sustainable Development Goals, and aim for emissions accuracy, permanence, and social benefit to local communities.
Learn more about the projects.
For this reason, at TravelPerk, we’ve developed two different solutions to make it easier for our customers to drive down their emissions through data. Here’s what we built:
So how do these initiatives work in practice? Here are a few practical examples:
- Company X has set an objective to reduce their travel-related carbon footprint.
- They log into the GreenPerk API dashboard and discover that 10% of their business trips are between London and Paris, and 100% of those trips are taken by plane. That comes to be around ~0.9% of the cost of their entire business travel!
- With GreenPerk API, Company X determines that they can reduce their carbon emissions by almost 75% if they implement a policy that gets their business travelers to take the Eurostar train instead of a flight.
You can also get more granular than that. For example:
- Company Y frequently books trips between London and New York.
- By looking at their dashboard, they discover that travelers flying with one airline emitted more carbon than travelers flying with another airline.
- They can now start booking all their travelers onto the more carbon-efficient airline and reduce their carbon footprint by about 22%.