Offsets Done Right, Part 2

On Friday we talked about offsets done right, whereby the providers of a product or service that offers distinct environmental advantages already, use offsets to further enhance their environmental credentials. This approach is a sharp contrast to the idea of offsets as a pass to guilt free pollution, or business as usual, but rather they are used as part of a much wider, and more comprehensive, sustainability strategy. Aside from the 'carbon free' light bulbs, and Eurostar’s recent announcement, that we talked about in Friday’s post, we have come across some other examples of exemplary companies that are leading the way to both carbon reduction at source, and carbon neutrality through offsets.

Aside from being a clean, efficient mode of urban transport, the G-Wiz electric car, which has taken London by storm, also markets itself as carbon neutral. GoinGreen, the retailer, offsets the CO2 produced during the manufacture, shipping and first two year's driving via contributions to Climate Care). Ecofleet, another UK company, that leases low emissions vehicles to businesses and individuals across the UK, also offsets these vehicles’ CO2 emissions through Climate Care. In the states we’ve come across 3PAR Thin Provisioning, providers of efficient data storage that greatly reduce the energy requirements of server farms. All emissions that remain are offset by 3PAR via Terrapass.

It seems obvious to us that very few, if any, products are likely to be 100% carbon free by themselves, no matter how beneficial they are. So if these companies can use offsets to take responsibility for their already diminished emissions, we can only applaud them. As mentioned on Friday, we are less sure about company’s that launch carbon intensive programs or products, such as business-class-only airlines, and then justify them as 'green' through offset purchases.

Of course, it is also important that companies, and individuals, choose responsible, transparent offset companies that can guarantee the levels of CO2 reductions that customers are purchasing, and who are open about their about operating procedures and how they spend your money. Clean Air-Cool Planet produced a report on offset quality here, while Terrapass discuss the issues brought up by this study here and here. The folks over at Green-e have also been putting some considerable time and effort into drawing up some offset standards. In the end, it seems it’s up to us as consumers, should we chose to purchase offsets, or products and services that include offsets, to make sure that they are as good as they can be, and to not forget that reducing emissions at source must be our number one priority. Feel free to share your thoughts on companies that are doing it right, or wrong, in the comments box below.

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