Author: Amy Haddon
Corporate clean energy purchasing has been dominating Q1 energy news. The recent uptick of organizational (i.e. non-utility) renewable energy buying via power purchase agreement (PPA) has garnered a lot of national attention. Electricity isn’t all that corporations are interested in getting cleanly; these organizations have also made public commitments to reducing their overall carbon footprint—and to do that, they need carbon offsets.
Greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions are segregated into three classifications, or scopes, by the GHG Protocol. Organizations most commonly address Scope 2 emissions, or those emissions generated via offsite electricity production. However, it’s typical for companies to also have considerable Scope 1 emissions in the form of onsite fuel combustion or Scope 3 emissions, which take a variety of forms, including the emissions produced from business travel and the supply chain.
Even the most efficient companies cannot eliminate all Scope 1 and Scope 3 emissions, which leaves the need to remediate those emissions via verified emission reductions (VERs), or carbon offsets. Carbon offsets counterbalance the emissions produced by an organization through their normal course of business. The emissions are “offset” by the elimination or reduction of emissions produced elsewhere. Carbon offset projects rely on increasingly sophisticated technologies to either destroy or sequester damaging GHGs before they can ever reach the atmosphere.
Carbon offsets are rigorously tracked and verified by highly regarded registries, meaning that organizations can rest assured that when they purchase quality offsets, they are getting the most credible of clean technology.
Here are five corporations using carbon offsets to meet their carbon neutrality goals:
TD Bank’s longstanding commitment to responsible operations encapsulates a three-fold approach to achieving carbon neutrality, including the purchase of offsets.
“TD is committed to developing innovative carbon offsets from projects located within our North American operating footprint. In addition, at least 50% of our carbon offsets will be generated through impact investing in projects undertaken with social partners such as schools, institutions, and Aboriginal communities.”
Committed to carbon neutrality since 2007 and well known for its large-scale and highly public commitments to clean energy generation, Google is also a leader in reducing carbon emissions.
“We need fundamental changes to global energy and transportation infrastructure to stabilize greenhouse gas emissions over the long term. In the meantime, the projects to which we contribute offer measurable emissions reductions and allow us to take responsibility for our carbon footprint.”
Another leader in clean energy generation, Microsoft was one of the first corporations to publicize their use of an internal carbon tax, used to finance many of its clean tech investments, including the company’s Keechi Wind Farm PPA. In addition to the carbon tax, the company also uses offsets.
“We’ve chosen to invest in carbon offsets because, in addition to helping us offset global emissions, our carbon offset strategy also helps us deliver the added economic, societal and educational benefits that Microsoft is already committed to providing around the world… These projects will advance our corporate citizenship in the years to come, not only by reducing GHG emissions but by improving health, protecting ecosystems and providing income and employment.”
Walt Disney Company
Disney made the news in February for its “hidden” Mickey Mouse-shaped solar array at Walt Disney World. The company has had a long-standing commitment to responsible operations and conservation, including its own internal carbon tax.
“In 2008, we established the Climate Solutions Fund, which set a carbon “tax” against the projected emissions of each business segment under their five-year plan. This tax incentivizes the businesses to reduce their internal emissions and the money collected is pooled to buy high-quality offsets to meet the targets to which we’ve committed. We’ve used the proceeds from the carbon “tax” to make substantial investments in forestry preservation. Working with Conservation International and The Nature Conservancy, in 2009 we invested $7 million in avoided deforestation and reforestation projects in Congo, Peru and the United States. These multi-year projects provide us carbon credits as we work to reduce our own fuel and electricity use. We look for high-quality offsets with co-benefits for both ecosystems and societal impact.”
General Motors has a widespread commitment to environmental and social responsibility. The company has 130 landfill-free sites and has reduced carbon intensity by 11% between 2010 and 2014. In 2015, GM completed its first PPA. The company also purchases innovative carbon offsets.
“For every single project we decide to invest in, we not only look at carbon reductions, but also the impact that they’re having on a community, and the technology that we may be supporting or incentivizing.”
Want to learn more about how carbon offsets can help your organization achieve carbon neutrality? Contact us today.
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