We had an incredible time at Sustainable Brands Vancouver last week and we’re excited to let you all know our next steps with carbon offsets!

We mentioned in our last post about green conferencing that we’d be ditching the swag and putting our energy to offsetting carbon. Our goal is 10 tons of CO2e and we’re purchasing 10kg of carbon on behalf of everyone that visited our booth and signed up for our newsletter.

Now we have to decide what carbon offset project to invest in. 

 

It’s not too late! Help us reach our goal of 10 tons of carbon offsets! Sign up for our newsletter here and we’ll donate 10kg of carbon offsets in your name.

 

Hold on, hold on, what were carbon offsets again? 

Essentially, carbon offsets are a way to compensate for your emissions by supporting emissions savings projects elsewhere.

Carbon offsetting can be done by an individual, organization or anything in between, for example a company wishing to offset a particular activity — such as attending a conference.  

 

I signed up for the @GreenStoryInc newsletter & Green Story donated 10kg of carbon offsets in my name. Talk about being part of the solution! (tweet me!)

    

Why are they so important?

Well, no matter whether you think of it from a company or personal perspective, everything we do requires energy, and in most cases using energy releases climate-change-inducing greenhouse gasses.

Just think about getting to work in the morning, the production of the food you eat, the computer you work on, and the building you’re sitting in — that’s a lot of carbon producing energy and it’s just at a personal level.

When it comes to emissions, prevention and reduction is clearly the best answer. But we know that it’s hard to drastically reduce emissions overnight or to avoid emissions altogether.

While many of us constantly try to choose the green alternative, there are some requirements in modern life where we just can’t reduce our emissions (or at least not yet!). It’s in these situations where carbon offsetting becomes important.

 

What’s the deal with carbon offsets? They help us to balance out the emissions we can’t reduce or avoid. And they often produce social benefits in the developing world. I’m down with that! (tweet me!) 

 

The Projects

So back to our anti-swag, carbon offsetting journey. Guess what? There’s a large carbon offset world out there! And it can be a little bit overwhelming when trying to figure out the right initiatives to invest in.

Numerous projects exist to help us fight climate change and they cover everything from financing clean energy technologies for the future to hands-in-the-dirt reforestation. The beauty of carbon offset projects is that although they are geared to reducing carbon in our atmosphere, they also provide additional social and environmental benefits, most often in developing nations. 

In my role as researcher here are Green Story, I’ve identified 3 key factors that are essential to a strong carbon offset project: purpose, verification, and relative emissions reduction.

I also tossed in additional benefits as a category because who doesn’t want to talk about extra social and environmental perks?

My search has looked for projects that eliminate the highest relative amount of CO2e per year. I’ve also made sure that all projects chosen are verified by The Gold Standard. This standard is considered the highest standard in the world for carbon offsets due to its stringent environmental criteria, focus of sustainable-development, and third-party verification.

I have combed through over 75 projects and initiatives, checked the data and narrowed down the list to the following 4 projects.

Green Story’s Top Carbon Offset Projects

Julin Zhenlai Mali wind farm Green Story Carbon Offsets

Jilin Zhenlai Mali Wind Farm Project

  • Type: Wind Power
  • Location: China
  • Standard: Gold Standard CER
  • Reductions: 110,000 tCO­2 per year
  • Additional Benefits: Local employment

 

Solar Power Project in Rajasthan Green Story Carbon Offsets

Solar Power Project in Rajasthan

  • Type: Solar Power
  • Location: India
  • Standard: Gold Standard CER
  • Reductions: 34,261 tCO­2 per year
  • Additional Benefits: Coal dependency reduction, energy for 61 families, 12 government schools

 

It’s vital that the projects we invest in are the ones that have the biggest impact. For this reason, our top two picks are those based on renewable energy technology which tackle the major cause of emissions: our reliance on fossil fuels (David Suzuki Foundation & Pembina Institute Report, 2009).

 

 

Cookstoves Ugandan Communities Green Story Carbon Offsets

Improved Cookstoves for Social Impact in Ugandan Communities

  • Type: Household Cookstoves
  • Location: Uganda
  • Standard: Gold Standard CER
  • Reductions: 85,615 tCO­2 per year
  • Additional Benefits: Health well-being, reduced deforestation, local employment

 

Our second choice for offsets are projects geared towards energy efficiency. The most beneficial of these programs is providing families in developing countries with cooking stoves which fights indoor air pollution from open fires and polluting stoves and causes 4 million deaths per year in developing countries (World Health Organization, 2018).

 

 

BaumInvest Mixed Reforestation in Costa Rica Green Story Carbon Offsets

BaumInvest Mixed Reforestation in Costa Rica

  • Type: Reforestration
  • Location: Costa Rica
  • Standard: Gold Standard CER
  • Reductions: 553,273 tCO­2 per year
  • Additional Benefits: Local employment, increased biodiversity, home for endangered species

 

Lastly, when we think of fighting climate change we almost always think of planting trees. Yet reforestation efforts are the last on our list due to their controversial status. While trees purify water, re-establish biodiversity and fight soil erosion, their ability to fight CO2 may not be all that we thought.

One major issue is their permanence. For a tree to absorb enough CO2 and offset other emissions, the tree must be standing for 100 years (which is something that cannot be ensured…yet) (David Suzuki Foundation & Pembina Institute Report, 2009). As well, a tree will only absorb a very limited amount of CO2 until it is 15 years old, and thus delaying the benefits (Wexler, 2017). 

 

So Which Project Should We Choose?

Of our top 4 carbon offsetting projects, which one would you choose to support?

We’ll be asking everyone who signed up at SBVan2018 to help us choose the best project to support. Stay tuned for the results!

 

But before you go…

 

You’re a solution-focused type, right? Help us reach our goal of 10 tons of carbon offsets!

Sign up for our newsletter here and we’ll donate 10kg of carbon offsets in your name!