While Carbon Credits are experiencing a renewed “green light” from the business community, global sustainability experts are flashing increasingly urgent warning signals about the misuse of this international sustainability mechanism.
Carbon neutrality has become the new Holy Grail in sustainable business as companies ranging from airlines to manufacturers to tour operators try to set themselves apart as good corporate citizens who are reducing climate change impacts. Being carbon neutral typically involves a company ‘offsetting’ the carbon emissions it generates by funding initiatives such as reforestation or renewable energy projects that produce carbon ‘credits’ of the equivalent amount. The unfortunate reality, however, is that these claims range from rigorously verified to downright shady, says Prof Ann Smith, CEO of New Zealand-based sustainability certification firm Enviro-Mark Solutions.
Dodgy carbon neutral claims can take many forms, says Smith. For example, some carbon offset schemes allow companies to simply do rough calculations of their emissions and say that they have offset them by paying for some trees to be planted – a well-meaning but ultimately unscientific method. Firms that peddle such schemes to companies may issue carbon neutral logos to unwitting clients without measurement against a recognised standard and without independent verification notes Smith. Some use vague methods to estimate the emissions which need to be offset, or sell suspect credits – such as from the planting of forests which are then used for firewood, or “forward-sell” credits from uncompleted projects before the emission reductions have been achieved.
Companies wanting to market themselves as carbon neutral must avoid such unreliable schemes because they undermine their genuine sustainability achievements and could lead to challenges that their carbon neutral claim is misleading, says Smith. Many countries, including New Zealand and Australia, have, in recent years, passed consumer protection regulations which stipulate that environmental and carbon claims must be “accurate, scientifically sound and substantiated”. Still, misleading claims persist because companies are not aware of the questions to ask. However, a complaint to the regulator could spark an investigation and severe damage to a company’s brand reputation, says Smith. (Source : http://www.eco-business.com/news/)
In 2002 Natural Capital Partners (then known as The CarbonNeutral Company), launched The CarbonNeutral Protocol, designed to deliver a solution to leading clients who were early pioneers in setting and meeting net zero emission reduction targets. Avis and Sky became clients and remain CarbonNeutral ® certified today. NCP have contracted more than 20 million tonnes of carbon credits and have been honoured to be recognised as Best Offset Retailer for an unprecedented six years running.
Since then more than 600 companies in 45 countries have used CarbonNeutral® certification to showcase their leadership, engage stakeholders, and differentiate from their competitors. The protocol is updated annually to follow the latest scientific and industry best practice, with guidance from NCP’s Advisory Forum, giving the third-party guarantee you need to demonstrate the quality and integrity of the programme.
The Carbon Consulting Company (CCC) , is the South Asian partner to Natural capital Partners (NCP). Based in Sri Lanka, CCC works with private sector industries to develop programmes supporting businesses in reducing carbon emissions and achieving carbon neutrality through a combined process of internal reductions and external investments in carbon offsets.
Throughout the past 5 years, CCC has facilitated the investment in approximately 40,000 carbon credits on behalf of companies in Sri Lanka, India and the Maldives. All carbon projects invested in are registered in recognised international registries under globally accepted carbon standards. They are further vetted by NCP before being retired on behalf of CCC’s clients. This rigorous process is fuelled by CCC’s commitment to adhere to internationally accepted offset standards and the retirement of globally acceptable carbon credits.