In an article in The Independent this weekend it details a report published by PwC that states “Carbon Offsetting” costs under the voluntary scheme reached £38 million in 2022 and in the same article BloombergNEF is reported as suggesting that the same volume of offsets could cost £154 million by the end of the decade.
Of course, the initial response is that this is yet another cost that is going to hurt businesses and may prevent numerous businesses from taking part in this voluntary scheme. That in itself will be a step backwards in our drive to reduce or carbon footprint, but, it is in reality a false economy.
Over the past couple of years, several high profile businesses have claimed they are now carbon neutral but a large element of this is through offsetting. The business itself has not changed its behaviour or activities and therefore still has a “real” carbon footprint.
More of my work is being undertaken with businesses looking to implement an ESG (Environmental, Social, Governance) reporting structure and to achieve this we are developing a framework that allows the business to change its long-term behaviour. To do this, we have to engage in the whole workforce from the top down and this will involve real change. Whilst the framework does not just focus on the environmental issues, it covers the workplace and community, a key element focuses on the need to reduce the carbon footprint on the business.
Any business that comes to me requesting that they become carbon neutral in six months is going to rely on offsetting to meet this objective, however, with the right strategy in place, we aim to work towards a genuine zero carbon footprint in the longer term through changing the behaviour of the business. In extreme cases this can involve changing an office or the business switching to remote working completely. In most cases though, through smaller changes and adapting the way they work, the carbon zero goal can be achieved, and offsetting only needs to form a small part of the process if any.
In recent weeks, several banks and consultancies have claimed that they need staff back in the office full time, my response to that is why? Will it seriously harm the business if people work remotely? If not, the benefit to the environment, not to mention the staff themselves and their health and well being will much greater with them working remotely, at least part of the time.
So, if your business is looking to establish a net-zero goal, don’t rely on offsetting, consider it as a short-term step to help achieve your goal sooner but work towards a genuine net-zero by changing your behaviour.
To find out how we can help please email me or give me a call on 07900 580407.