The problem with “Net Zero”

Almost every publicly traded company has now pledged to reduce their carbon emissions by “X” percent by the year “X” and achieve net zero emissions by the year “X”.

While achieving net zero emissions is a very important goal, one very important question remains… How?

Reducing carbon emissions is not a one size fits all solution. While direct carbon capture technologies are expected to become available in the future, what are the world’s largest polluters doing to reduce their emissions today?

The not so transparent answer might be… through Carbon Offsets

How do Carbon Offsets Work?

Carbon offsets or Carbon offset credits are certificates that represent the reduction of one metric ton of CO2.

These “certificates” are granted by governing bodies for projects that demonstrate the reduction or capture of CO2 or other greenhouse gases. While these credits are regulated by governing bodies to ensure validity, over the years the quality of these carbon offsets have come under scrutiny.

Carbon Offset Credit Quality

The quality of carbon offsets refers to the confidence that an carbon offset project has achieved what it has set out to accomplish and has not created undue social or environmental harm.

Over the years Carbon offset credits have been generated from projects related to:

  • Reforestation
  • Replacing woodfired stoves with propane gas stoves
  • Burning methane for electricity.

While some of these initiatives may seem to have more merit than others at face value carbon credits can be purchased, sold, or transferred. This has created an industry where carbon credits have become commoditized, with many agencies entering the market solely to misrepresent carbon offset projects for financial gain.

Final Thoughts

If your business or corporation is considering purchasing carbon offset credits, do your research. Carbon Offset Credits can be a great way to invest in high quality Carbon Reduction projects but they also represent an “easy button” that can be abused and misrepresented.

Kicking the can on climate change is similar to quitting a bad habit. Paying someone else not to smoke cigarettes or to exercise on your behalf doesn’t make you any healthier. Continuing to run your operations “status quo” while polluting the atmosphere with millions of tons of CO2 isn’t going to reverse the harmful effects of climate change.

Identifying ways to improve the efficiency of your operations is not only better for the environment but also ensures value is being created for shareholders, and communities where you operate.

While Carbon Offsets are still important to reducing overall global emissions and climate change. It is important that a carbon reduction strategy focuses on reducing new emissions being produced as well as ensuring previous emissions are captured.

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