Firms investing in offsets

4th August 2016

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  • Mitigation ,
  • Reporting ,
  • Carbon Trading ,
  • Management


Hannah Trotter

Companies are engaging in carbon markets as part of larger emissions reduction strategies, according to a report.

A study by US-based research organisation Ecosystems Marketplace found that 17% of the almost 2,000 companies that publicly disclosed data in 2015 used offsetting as part of a carbon reduction strategy and purchased the equivalent of 39.8 million tonnes of carbon dioxide (MtCO2e) in 2014. Most of the 248 firms that bought offsets did so voluntarily, it said.

Ecosystems Marketplace found that General Motors purchased offsets to cover more than 1.8 MtCO2e emissions in 2014. Other big spenders were Delta Airlines (995,037), Barclays Africa (880,000), Microsoft (396,531) and Deutsche Bank (325,000). Offsetting was most common in the finance sector, with one company in five voluntarily purchasing offsets in 2014.

Meanwhile, 11 airlines offset their carbon emissions, largely in preparation for industry-wide regulation from the International Civil Aviation Organization, which is likely to be announced in September. According to the report, airlines, including Delta are investing in offsets because there are few other options to reduce unavoidable emissions.

Elsewhere, firms are generating offsets in their own supply chains. In total, 79 firms generated 102.4 MtCO2e in emissions reductions among suppliers in 2014. Cosmetics firm L’Oréal distributed cleaner-burning stoves to women in Burkina Faso who boil the shea nuts used in its products.

Offsetting is often linked to meeting voluntary targets, with 88% of voluntary offset buyers and 92% of compliance buyers set emissions reductions targets. A number of companies had also signed up to the Science Based Targets Initiative. This is a partnership between CDP, UN Global Compact, WRI and WWF to help firms determine by how much they must cut emissions to prevent the worst impacts of climate change.


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