How do carbon offsets work?
Even if complete carbon neutrality feels like a reach for your small business, carbon offsets can still help you even out your carbon emissions. But, how exactly do these offsets work?
In most cases, this isn’t going to be a grassroots movement (like the tree planting example we used earlier). Instead, your business will actually purchase carbon offsets, which you’ll likely hear referred to as carbon credits, through an established carbon offset program. Some popular and reputable programs for businesses include:
That’s not an exhaustive list. As you explore your options, The New York Times advises looking for certifications by standards groups like The Gold Standard or Green-e to make sure that your money actually goes to worthwhile climate projects.
How much does a carbon offset cost? Or how much do you need to invest to truly counteract your business’s emissions?
That answer varies from business to business and project to project. If your goal is carbon neutrality, then you’ll need to start by calculating your business’s total carbon emissions. It doesn’t need to be complicated, especially if you use an online calculator (which most programs offer as part of the purchase process).
When you know your emissions, you’re better equipped to understand how much you need to offset. Again, if you want to be carbon neutral, emitting 25 metric tons of CO2 per year means you’d want to offset 25 metric tons per year.
The established initiatives will walk you through how to invest in their carbon offset programs and counteract your emissions. Regardless of which one you go with, the basic premise remains the same: You’re committing money to a program that benefits the environment to balance out your business’s carbon footprint.