More and more organisations are taking action to mitigate their environmental impact on the road to Net Zero
When it comes to energy, there’s a variety of methods and approaches you can take to do this and integrate Net Zero as a strategy throughout your business operations – from choosing a zero carbon energy source, to changing your fleet to electric vehicles, right through to agreeing a Corporate PPA or creating your own additionality through solar PVs.
But inevitably there will be some carbon emissions your business just can’t avoid, even once you’ve taken action to reduce them.
This is where carbon offsetting can make all the difference - pledging to go carbon neutral by heavily reducing carbon dioxide emissions and then compensating for any excess by buying carbon credits supporting emission removal, reduction or avoidance projects located around the world. But this still needs to be part of an ongoing improvement process…
Her Majesty’s Government (HMG) – leading by example
November 2021 marked the UK hosting COP26 in Glasgow, where world leaders gathered to agree and commit to international action to tackle climate change. But with a huge event like COP26, pulling in over a hundred world leaders and tens of thousands of delegates from around the world, the carbon footprint will of course come into question and steps need to be taken to reduce its environmental impact.
Her Majesty’s Government (HMG) rose to the challenge and led by example; showing the world that the UK is serious about uniting global leaders to deliver genuine climate action by making the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) COP26 and the UK Government’s Green Zone carbon neutral.
“Arup is working with the UK Government to develop a technically robust and transparent approach to carbon neutrality for COP26. To this end we are applying the PAS 2060 standard, which sets a framework for achieving carbon neutrality through measurement, reduction, offsetting, and documentation.”
“COP26 will be the first COP event applying PAS2060 to demonstrate carbon neutrality.”
Natasha Connolly, Associate Director at Arup
First and foremost - make a smaller footprint
HMG appointed engineering, design and consultancy firm Arup to advise on the sustanability and carbon aspects for the planning and delivery of COP26. This included acheiving the International Standard for Sustainable Events (ISO20121) certification and achieving carbon neutral for the event.
Every element of the planning and delivery of COP26 can result in GHG emissions. But first things first – they needed to make an action plan! Focussing on a hierarchy that promoted:
- prioritising actively avoiding carbon intensive activities and actions,
- then undertaking activities with improved efficiency, reuse and reducing wastage,
- replacing high carbon activities or sources with low carbon solutions,
- and then finally offsetting emissions that cannot be eliminated.
Their comprehensive Carbon Management Plan focussed on tangible commitments to local, sustainable and responsible sourcing throughout their supply chain for every product associated with the event. For example, electric vehicles were used to transport world leaders, and food for delegates was provided by local Scottish producers.
This certainly reduced the carbon footprint of running the event itself, but there were still factors to consider and mitigate against when it comes to emissions. The event also – of course – results in significant aviation emissions as delegates travel to attend in person. In-person attendance at COP is seen as key to ensuring participation and representation from all delegations and ensuring all voices can contribute to delivering action at a global scale.
Buying carbon credits from a credible source
Even with all these measures in place, HMG is still estimating 10s of thousands of tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent to come from hosting COP26, much of which arises from aviation emissions which remain extremely challenging to avoid for global participants.
With support from EDF, HMG was able to work with EDF Trading to access carbon credits from a diverse portfolio of global projects that support various UN Sustainable Development Goals.
EDF Trading’s portfolio includes projects registered under the 3 main internationally recognised standards in the voluntary carbon markets:
These standards provide assurance that the emission reductions are actually taking place. They also highlight individual project benefits and guarantee that the project is credible, verified, permanent, and additional.
Aligning carbon offsets to strategic priorities and values
Hosting an event of this scale and prestige, no matter how sustainably sourced, will raise questions about its carbon footprint. Making it carbon neutral is not only the responsible thing to do, but also underpins the core message and values of the event itself. By adopting the challenging PAS2060 standard, which requires public documentation of the carbon management and accounting, the UK will also provide a resource to support effective carbon management of future events.
Through EDF Trading, HMG was able to select projects around the world that focussed on meaningful targets aligned to the strategic priorities and message of COP26. As well as having a positive impact on carbon emissions, each carbon credit also supports a variety of other environmental and socioeconomic benefits in line with the UN Sustainable Development Goals.
Building on the success of the G7 summit
HMG along with Arup had already set the bar with their sustainability work for the G7 summit earlier this year. Here they employed a similar strategy of avoiding and reducing carbon intensive activities in favour of more sustainable alternatives, and offset over 20,000 tonnes of carbon emissions with support from EDF Trading through projects such as:
- Improved Cook Stoves CDM project of JSMBT, India
- Avoided methane emission through aerobic composting at Vietstar municipal solid waste treatment facility, Vietnam
- Xe Namnoy 2 – Xe Katam 1 Hydropower Project, Laos
- CYY Biopower Wastewater treatment plant including biogas reuse for thermal oil replacement and electricity generation Project, Thailand
- Installation Of Low Greenhouse Gases (GHG) Emitting Rolling Stock Cars In Delhi Metro, India
Carbon offsetting as part of your Net Zero strategy
On the road to Net Zero, there are a variety of ways businesses can look to reduce reliance on carbon emitting technology and the carbon intensity of their operations. If you are a medium to large commercial or industrial business planning to put these solutions in place then short to medium term limited use of good quality offsets can help your organisation meet your Net Zero targets.
For more information, contact your account manager about ancillary services