The ultimate guide to reducing carbon footprint for businesses

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If you’re a sustainability manager looking for ways to meet your corporate social responsibility goals and have a positive impact on the environment, you may have looked into carbon offsetting programs.

According to a report from Conservation International and the We Mean Business Coalition, nearly 92% of business leaders say reducing carbon emissions is an “urgent” priority for their organization, while 89% view carbon credits (purchased for carbon offsetting) as a valuable tool to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions.

But not all carbon offset programs and providers are the same. A survey of senior sustainability officers commissioned by AiDash found that 43% of chief sustainability officers (CSOs) seek assurance from ratings agencies to validate the carbon offsets they use, while 41% report having trust issues with carbon offsets.

So how can you find the right carbon offsetting programs to meet your sustainability goals?

Read on to learn more about how these programs work, and what to look for when choosing one for your business.

What are carbon offset programs?

Carbon offset programs are designed to help businesses combat climate change by mitigating the greenhouse gas emissions (GHG emissions) they produce.

Companies can reduce their carbon footprint by cutting their own emissions, increasing energy efficiency, and making more eco-friendly choices, but there will still be some residual emissions left after doing this. Carbon offsets are a way of compensating for these residual emissions, making the business carbon neutral.

Businesses buy carbon offsets at a fixed price to make up for each metric ton (tonne) of CO2 they emit. These offset credits contribute to an activity for carbon reduction in the atmosphere—for example, an environmental project run by a non-profit organization. In this way, the company can reach “net zero” emissions.

What to look for in a reliable carbon offset program

There are many different carbon offsetting programs out there. Some popular types of climate solution initiatives include:

  • Forestry (reforestation, tree planting, and preventing deforestation)
  • Methane capture
  • Renewable energy projects, such as wind farms or hydroelectric power plants
  • Direct carbon capture

It is very important to choose reliable programs with third-party verification, so that emissions can be properly offset. Contributing to unreliable programs means offsets will not be effective, and may lead to accusations of “greenwashing.”

Effective carbon offset programs should:

  • Make a tangible, measurable environmental impact on CO2 emissions that is accurately-measured and permanent
  • Be properly supervised and efficiently run
  • Benefit local communities
  • Be VERRA (Verified Carbon Standard/VCS) approved

6 of the best carbon offset programs for companies

1. GreenPerk

If your company sends people on business trips frequently, perhaps you’re looking for a carbon offset program for business travel.

TravelPerk is an all-in-one business travel tool and platform for travel booking, management, and reporting. As part of the platform, TravelPerk offers GreenPerk, an industry-leading carbon offset solution.

GreenPerk allows you to offset 100% of the CO2 emissions from your business trips for just 1% of the total travel cost. The software automatically calculates your carbon footprint using TravelPerk’s in-house tool, GreenPerk API. These calculations comply with the standard set by the World Resource Institute: GHG Protocol for Corporate Accounting. You’ll then be charged a fixed price of €10 per ton of CO2.

These funds will be collected in a pool and invested in VERRA-certified projects. All GreenPerk projects are hand-selected by experts and meet the UN Sustainable Development Goals. They offer guaranteed valid, third-party verified emissions reductions that are permanent, and also have additional benefits for local communities and the environment.

Some examples of specific projects from GreenPerk include:

  • Biogas capture in Thailand
  • Forestry in Cambodia and Indonesia
  • Hydroelectric power in Turkey
  • Wind power in China

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2. TerraPass

TerraPass offers carbon offsetting solutions for individuals, businesses, and events. With TerraPass, companies can support CO2 reduction projects on a monthly subscription basis.

The TerraPass website offers carbon footprint calculators to help you understand the footprint of an event, or of your business and daily life activity, as well as the cost of carbon offsetting.

All of TerraPass’ carbon offsets are certified by industry-leading third-party verifiers, including VERRA, the Gold Standard, the American Carbon Registry, or the Climate Action Reserve. And TerraPass completes Green-e Climate Certification, the industry’s highest level of third-party assurance, each year.

TerraPass funds projects around the world that destroy greenhouse gasses and produce renewable energy. These include land gas capture, clean energy from wind power, farm power, and other initiatives. Some examples of TerraPass projects include:

  • Landfill gas combustion in Virginia
  • Forest management in Kentucky
  • Preservation of rainforests in Papua New Guinea

3. NativeEnergy

NativeEnergy is an established carbon offset program that has been around since 2000. Its quality, transparency, and rigorous standards make it a leader among carbon offset programs. It is a Public Benefit Corporation and Certified B Corp.

The program has carbon offset calculators for both businesses and individuals. These include travel, events, household, and freight calculators. They allow people to measure their carbon footprint and calculate the cost of investing in carbon offsets.

With NativeEnergy, users can buy offsets as a one-time purchase or as a monthly, quarterly, or annual offset. All projects are validated and verified by third-party organizations such as the Gold Standard, the Verified Carbon Standard, the Climate, Community & Biodiversity Standards, the American Carbon Registry, VERRA, or Plan Vivo.

Most projects cover reforestation and emissions reduction. They aim to positively impact communities and ecosystems while reducing or removing CO2. NativeEnergy offers clean water, nature-based, on-farm, and renewable energy projects, among others.

Some example projects include:

  • Regenerative farming in the Canadian Prairies
  • Improving agriculture and livelihoods in Uganda
  • Brazilian pastureland regeneration
  • Protecting the Northern Kenya Rangelands

4. Sustainable Travel International

Sustainable Travel International is dedicated to protecting the world’s most vulnerable travel destinations. They are focused on safeguarding nature, combating climate change, helping empower communities, and tackling waste and pollution. To do this, they take a collaborative approach involving local communities, destination managers, local governments, tourism businesses, and travelers.

The organization offers a carbon footprint calculator that generates the total carbon footprint of a flight and shows how much it will cost to offset that footprint.

Sustainable Travel International’s projects include clean and efficient energy, blue carbon, biodiversity initiatives, and forest conservation. These projects are verified by the Gold Standard, VERRA, and the Climate Action Reserve, among others. Some examples include:

  • Hydro power plants in Indonesia
  • Rainforest conservation in Brazil
  • Farm biogas projects in Thailand
  • Wind farms in the USA

5. Carbon Checkout

This software app can integrate into e-commerce stores, allowing customers to invest in carbon offsets while they shop. It’s one of the world’s leading carbon offset retail distribution networks.

Using the app is easy: once it’s been integrated, customers can balance the carbon footprint of their orders in just one click, and then track their carbon offset contributions on the Carbon Checkout website.

Carbon Checkout contributions are pooled to fund renewable energy projects. These projects include wind and solar energy projects, as well as landfill gas capture initiatives. They are third-party verified by the Clean Development Mechanism, VERRA, the Gold Standard, and more. Some examples include:

  • Wind power in Mexico, Bulgaria, Argentina, and South Dakota
  • Landfill gas capture in Virginia, South Carolina, and Turkey

6. myclimate

Myclimate offers a wide variety of third-party certified carbon offset projects, and helps create jobs and improve living conditions in communities around the world. It offers education programs, carbon footprint calculators, and full transparency.

Myclimate’s educational programs have reached over 65,000 schoolchildren and 11,000 trainees in Switzerland, plus 1400 students and young professionals in its global network. Its climate offset programs serve NGOs, companies, and private individuals. They adhere to standards like Plan Vivo and the Gold Standard. Some examples include:

  • Water preparation in Uganda
  • Biogas plants in India
  • Solar cookers in Bolivia

Choose the right carbon offset program for your business

With so many great carbon offset programs to choose from, you should have no problem finding one that works for you. When selecting a program, be sure to consider its cost, reliability, effectiveness, and suitability for your needs.

The right program should provide offsets for the specific purpose you would like (such as business travel), and it should also offer access to certified projects that are transparent and reliable.

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