Carbon offsetting

This article explores what carbon offsetting is. First, let’s find out what some of the key terms are – carbon, greenhouse gases, measuring carbon emissions, carbon offset and finally scope 1, 2 & 3.

What is carbon?

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration tells us that carbon is predominantly stored in rocks and sediments. It is also present in the oceans, at around 50 times the volume of that in the atmosphere. 

Carbon is continually exchanged by living organisms, it is essential to life. For example trees photosynthesise light and make sugars. Humans and animals eat the plant sugars and it is expired in their breath, waste or decaying body. This returns it to either the ground or atmosphere, so continuing the carbon cycle. 

What are greenhouse gases?

Greenhouse gas traps heat in the atmosphere and keeps earth warm. The main greenhouse gases are carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide and water vapour as well as synthetic fluorinated gases. 

The greenhouse effect is good, without it we could not live on earth. The increase in greenhouse gas emissions caused by our burning of fossil fuels for energy is bad. This is exacerbated by our destruction of natural rainforests.

‘These forests act as giant carbon banks, when the trees are cut down, they release carbon into the air, thereby contributing to the global problem that is climate change. It is estimated that 15% of global greenhouse gas emissions come from the continued destruction of the world’s forests.’ –

Cristina Talens, Source Climate Change Coffee

How can we measure our carbon emissions? 

As a business you can measure your carbon emissions by first assessing your use of fossil fuels as energy or in transportation. Secondly, work out your rate of carbon emission using a calculator or by consulting an expert. Finally, look for ways to reduce your carbon emissions or offset them. 

What is carbon offset? 

According to the Carbon Offset Guide, carbon offset, generally speaking, refers to the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) or an increase in carbon storage. 

Carbon offsetting is achieved either by commissioning more energy efficient business processes or by funding projects that reduce carbon dioxide e.g. by reforestation, in order to offset emissions that cannot be totally eliminated.  Remember that some offsets are not included in an audit and all offsets are not created equal – a tree planting project may not be a valid offsetting scheme. 

What are Scope 1, 2 & 3 emissions?

The GHG Protocol Corporate Standard classifies a company’s GHG emissions into three ‘scopes’:

Scope 1  – all direct emissions. The emissions that are in your control e.g. the company’s own usage of fossil fuels and transportation.

Scope 2 – indirect emissions. An example is using an external energy supplier e.g. electricity or heating that produce indirect emissions.

Scope 3 – all other indirect emissions. This is a more comprehensive audit of all emissions e.g, materials, waste, travel or employee commuting. 

Blue Patch works with our members to help them reduce their carbon footprint and will be working with members on how to formally calculate their emissions (SBTi) in a project due to begin shortly. 

Green Element is an environmental management agency, who work with a variety of businesses as a consultancy on carbon emissions. They have developed their own carbon calculator called Compare Your Footprint.

While seeing the carbon cycle in action for herself while travelling in Peru, Cristina decided that she would develop a coffee company that would incentivise forest preservation. That company is Source Climate Change Coffee

Thrive Renewables have committed to becoming Net Zero by 2030. The company funds clean energy projects like wind, solar and hydro and have saved over 835,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide during the life of the business. Thrive Renewables is a gold patron.

Ethex helps everyday people make ethical investments from just £50 that fund extraordinary organisations delivering social and environmental impact all across the UK. These community owned and purposeful businesses are pioneering new approaches when it comes to renewable energy, sustainable transport and housing, better food production or technology for good. Blue Patch has made several investments through Ethex with the most recent investment being into Energy Garden, an organisation which is generating renewable energy, greening overground stations and improving air quality in London.

When investing via the Ethex platform your capital is at risk.

Naturesave, an insurance provider, is aiming for net zero and in the process of being audited. Once complete, Naturesave will begin to offer its commercial clients a free carbon footprint advisory service. Naturesave also lobby the insurance industry to take more urgent action on climate by addressing their investment and underwriting policies. As a business Naturesave pioneered the no-fly staff holiday incentive and plants a trees for every policy issued. To date the company has donated over half its profits to its charity, The Naturesave Trust.

Blue Patch are insured by Naturesave and they are gold patrons.

Join Blue Patch today as a member or patron. 

Annette Clubley

Annette is a keen wildlife conservationist, mindful of sustainability and our impact on the environment. Outside of work, family is her focus and she loves teaching the next generation to enjoy the outdoors.