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The practical ways to reduce emissions

Virtuous examples of how companies around the world are trying to offset their carbon footprint.

by Anna Volpicelli
13 July 2020
6 min read
byAnna Volpicelli
13 July 2020
6 min read

More and more businesses are stepping up their initiatives to support the fight against climate change and global warming. For many, carbon offsetting is one of first steps they are seeking to integrate into their operational systems.

There are many ways in which a company can generate carbon offsets based on the type of business and industry. They can invest in energy efficiency projects aimed to reduce the use of greenhouses gas emissions; put efforts into energy substitution programs with renewable energy sources; or pivot their operational systems with the goal of removing greenhouse gas from the atmosphere.

It is not an easy process to adjust business and operational models. Often, corporations don't know where to start to make a change. However, there are green consulting firms that specialize in making the process easier.

3Degrees’ activities

3Degrees is a California-based renewable energy services company that partners with utilities and corporations to help them meet their sustainability goals. They provide renewable energy procurement, renewable energy credits and carbon offset projects to Fortune 500® companies, green building firms and other organizations committed to sustainability.

They operate by analyzing a company's industry and strategy and setting both short- and long-term goals. All 3Degrees projects are registered under internationally recognized standards maintained by not-for-profit environmental organizations, such as the American Carbon Registry (ACR), Climate Action Reserve (CAR), Gold Standard, and Verified Carbon Standard (VCS). These groups deliver a series of standards for project emission reductions that are monitored and quantified regularly.

3Degress recently worked with Etsy, the global marketplace for artisan crafts and creative goods, to manage its carbon impact and foster responsible resource use. Etsy's goal was to build long-term climate resilience across its operations, by powering its offices and computing infrastructure with 100% renewable electricity and running zero waste operations by 2020. 3Degrees enabled the company to identify a portfolio of emissions reduction while fostering more sustainable shipping solutions for the future.

Within a year, Etsy was able to offset its shipping emissions using carbon offset while working on a broader strategy that includes collaboration with industry leaders, shippers, and policymakers to navigate the shipping industry toward decarbonization.

Investing in green projects

Companies know that transforming how they have been operating for years can take time; it doesn't happen within a day or a week. Carbon offsets can serve as a bridge while they work on developing the necessary long-term solutions. With a carbon offset, for instance, a business can pay a third-party company to decrease or eliminate a specified amount of greenhouse gases from the atmosphere. One example can be buying cleaner-burning cookstoves in developing countries that reduce deforestation for firewood, or funding projects for clean waters.

ECOHZ, a company with offices in Norway and Switzerland, offers such global renewable energy solutions to businesses. It provides access to a portfolio of carbon offset projects from different countries and standards, as well as innovative solutions by combining renewable energy purchases with the financing and building of new renewable power generation.

The company offers cost-effective existing or high-impact projects that help finance renewable energy, waste recycling, education improvements, and the protection of forestry and wildlife. One such program is water filtration and the improvement of cookstoves in Guatemala.

According to ECOHZ, water-borne diseases have been identified as a national priority in Guatemala. Companies that invest in these specific projects through ECOHZ help to distribute water filters and stoves that enable access to clean water and improved cooking conditions by increasing fuel efficiency and reducing harmful indoor air pollution. So far, this type of project has benefited more than half a million people.

Eni launched a similar initiative in some developing countries. The Promoting Energy Efficiency and Clean Cooking project helps thousands of families replace traditional stoves with better ones with a two-fold purpose. This will allow individuals to save on energy products and have more money to buy food, while helping reduce the deforestation that occurs from chopping wood for domestic coal use.

The program has already started in Pemba, Tanzania, where 88% of families use coal as their main fuel for cooking, and only 11% rely on an electric oven. Since its inception, Eni has been able to place more than 2,000 stoves and support those families in need.

Positive impact on communities

If a company wants to see where its investment goes, Native Energy, a US-based carbon offset retailer, can organize site-specific visits. Native Energy has worked with the cosmetics company, Aveda, for instance, on balancing the climate impact of its aerosol hairsprays. The goal: To help support clean energy projects in countries within Aveda's value chain, including the long-term development of new wind energy in the U.S.

Although the investment in carbon offsets is often debated, it represents useful tools for companies that wish to achieve sustainability reporting requirements for greenhouse gas emissions. Such initiatives help corporations make a positive strategic impact, while also benefiting communities. The most significant improvements —in developing countries that need it most— can serve as a guide toward a more planet-friendly approach to business and a more green environment in which to live.

 

The author: Anna Volpicelli

Editor and journalist Il Sole 24 Ore, The San Francisco Chronicle, SOMA MAGAZINE, D la Repubblica delle Donne, L'Espresso (print & web), Marieclaire.it, A, Leiweb.it, Yoga Journal Italy, Vogue Sposa & Vogue Bambini.