Creating Order In The Chaos Of Enterprise Carbon Credits

April 8, 2008 at 9:39 am Leave a comment

carbontr.jpgCompanies involved in offsetting their carbon footprint have access to over twenty tools to calculate their emissions, most of which have been launched in the last year. So far, the voluntary carbon offsetting market is dominated by European players. Reviews of their efforts have not been all too positive, so US companies following in their footsteps do best to avoid the pitfalls.

The main criticism centers on what´s left out of the equasion. Companies embarking on greening up their business practices are faced with a daunting task and most go about it the `easy way´ at first. There´s the option to simply offset carbons on the Chicago Climate Exchange, the European Climate Exchange or on the newly established NYMEX venture, the Green Exchange. Businesses have access to these exchanges if they wish to reduce their overall greenhouse gas emissions by as little as 1%.

Another easy start is to go green at corporate level. Carbon calculator designers themselves say that they´ve calibrated the tools to deliberately not include the most thorny issues. That is so that they do not scare off company bosses. “Instead it’s to raise awareness about the scale of the impact or quickly produce figures for a carbon offset”, according to a report on

That is not to say that the real deal for people wanting to progress on from that level doesn´t exist. Once companies have developed the right mindset, having learnt that relatively simple energy reduction tricks can create cost savings of 20% which in many cases equals increased sales of around 5%, they´re likely to want more. And the good news is that there´s a plethora of very detailed guidelines on offset standards. Companies seriously wanting to make a real difference only have to find them.

Last year alone, some 20 tools were released, most free of charge. To create order in this chaos, the WWF has published a 105-page guide to and comparison of the ten standards most widely in use by companies voluntarily offsetting carbons. The document is entitled `Making Sense of the Voluntary Carbon Market: A Comparison of Carbon Offset Standards´ recommends the guide wholeheartedly, saying it´s `a good primer for beginners and an adequate refresher for veterans´. EcoSystemMarketplace’s own beginners´guide is aimed at getting a quick insight into the core issues.

The better calculators are based on the publicly available guidelines such as the definitions in the Greenhouse Gas Protocol (drawn up by the World Resources Institute). The UK´s Carbon Trust´s calculator is based on these guidelines and also takes into account the UK’s environmental regulator Defra’s new Environmental Reporting Guidelines, the UK Emissions Trading Scheme and Climate Change Levy agreements. The Carbon Trust offers four in depth calculators; an accurate co2 measuring tool, an `environmental reporting´ tool, a tool to account for weather factors and a highly detailed energy calculator. ClimateChange.corp criticizes the effort saying that the Carbon Trust´s tools leave out emissions generated by a company´s supply chain.

The targets large and small companies. The small companies have free access to a carbon baseline tool for businesses without process emissions. Carbon Trust also offers cheap loans for small companies investing in eco friendly operation procedures.

Companies can also devise programs with outside help. The effort will pay off because once you´ve got a program installed, the thing will virtually run itself. Companies that include `environmental reporting´ in their daily operations that set new benchmarks in the industry include Air France KLM. The airline sought assistance from Enablon, a Netherlands based carbon software design company which works with large companies.Another example of an outside consultancy is the Edinburgh Centre for Carbon Management which has carried out assignments for companies ranging from General Electric, BP and TetraPak UK, which offsets carbons by investing in Ugandan tree projects.

Entry filed under: Green Concepts Explained, Green Critics, Green Economics, Green Marketing, Green News, The Planet's Resources. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , .

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