Carbomap recently calculated our carbon emissions for 2013-14, and we found that we had generated 1.65 tonnes of CO2 equivalent.
In the grand scheme of ‘corporate’ carbon emissions this is a tiny amount, however we feel that this doesn’t detract from the fact that we are having an adverse impact on our natural environment (however small). And by starting to monitor and manage this now we will be able to keep tabs on this as Carbomap grows. As an explicitly environmental company, we believe in running a carbon neutral business, we decided to offset the emissions that we were unable to avoid.
How did we calculated our carbon emissions?
Our carbon emissions were calculated in line with the most recent Defra guidelines, and carbon conversion factors, published in 2014. Our emissions are reported in CO2 equivalent, which is the global warming potential of different gases (such as Methane) measured in the reference term of Carbon Dioxide. It allows us to fully account for our environmental impact, and doesn’t limit us to only carbon when we fully understand that other gases have an impact on global warming too.
We determined our share of the electricity and heat usage for our office in Appleton Tower by using our proportion of floor area to the building as a whole and applying this to the energy usage for the building. These came to 0.88 tonnes of CO2 equivalent for electricity, and 0.36 tCO2e for the heating.
We also included our business travel for the year, which included a handful of short-haul flights, and two train journeys. These came to 0.35 tCO2e for flights, and 0.06 tCO2e for rail travel.
Currently Carbomap is a paperless office (though we recycle any waste that we do accumulate), so this hasn’t been included. Neither is water, as this is notoriously difficult to monitor where it isn’t metered.
How did we offset them?
Having done research into the organisations which offer carbon offsets for sale, we decided to go with The CarbonNeutral Company. Having had professional experience with them in the past we knew their reputation, and the standards to which their offsetting projects adhere to. Their portfolio includes a number of forestry projects, including REDD+ schemes in Cambodia, Madagascar, and Borneo (to name a few). Carbomap have long been proponents of REDD+ [Blog 1; Blog 2; Blog 3] as a mechanism for developing countries to maintain economic development, whilst minimising impact on the natural environment (unlike many existing developed nations), ensures the protection of key forest ecosystems, and provides financial compensation to the local communities and countries for doing so.
What is carbon offsetting and why has Carbomap chosen to do this?
Carbon offsetting is the process whereby carbon emissions are reduced in one place to compensate for emissions made elsewhere. By paying for the carbon offsets, it is designed to encourage emitters to reduce their carbon emissions. In the context of Carbomap, we create carbon emissions simply by having an office, using electricity, and travelling. However, we believe in an environmentally friendly future for the planet, and we voluntarily decide to offset these. Also, given that we work in the forestry sector, and hope to benefit and contribute to the development of schemes such as REDD+ we feel it is only appropriate that we feed back into this system. Not only does this account for our carbon emissions, but it also aids forest conservation and the protection of biodiversity, whilst aiding international poverty alleviation efforts. For us it is about much more than the carbon.
Going forward, what are we doing to limit our carbon emissions?
A common criticism of the carbon offsetting ‘industry’ is that it does nothing to dissuade organisations from reducing their emissions, as they can simply offset them elsewhere. However, our experience is that the cost of carbon offsets itself can encourage this reduction. We are also keen to limit and reduce our carbon emissions (indeed it is written into our ethics policy). We already limit the amount of paper we use, and follow standard tricks such as turning lights off, and powering down computers at night. Given that Carbomap operate internationally we try to limit our travel emissions too, we regularly use Skype for conducting long-distance meetings where we can, negating the need to meet in person (which would incur significant emissions from travel). We also have some exciting announcements coming up, which further contribute to our commitment to limiting our environmental impact. Keep your eyes peeled!