We emphasise carbon offsets should be purchased as a last resort only - for emissions you can’t avoid. The Climate Council has some good information on offsets and how they’re best used.
Becoming carbon neutral
Depending on your strategy, targets, and public claims, you may use offsets to position yourself as carbon neutral. Sometimes it makes sense to use offsets to get to carbon neutral while better, more efficient technologies become available.
If you want to get to net zero, you’ll typically need to prove you’ve done everything possible to reduce emissions before using offsets to compensate for unavoidable emissions.
In Australia, businesses are certified carbon neutral by Climate Active , a federal government program.
There are several global certified offset schemes. Projects must adhere to a rigorous set of criteria to be certified by these standards.
Verra issues Verified Carbon Standard / Verified Carbon Unit (VCS/VCU)
Gold Standard issues Voluntary Emissions Reduction (VER)
Certified Emissions Reduction (CER)
If you’re looking for Australian projects, the Clean Energy Regulator issues Australian Carbon Credit Units (ACCUs). Australian credit units are generally viewed as the top standard.
We recommend looking for offsets with co-benefits. Particularly where they align to your business or employee values. An example of a co-benefit is where the offset project has additional benefits such as creating employment for local people.
There are some common criticisms of offsets to be aware of, such as the permanence of projects or if the project would have happened anyway. It’s best to do your research and where risk is identified, contract expert support to purchase your offsets.
PCA and GBCA framework: carbon offsets, last but not later
Read this report by the Property Council of Australia and the Green Building Council of Australia on the framework to enhance the environmental credibility of offsets in the property sector.