Offsetting one ton of carbon dioxide brings an additional $664 in benefits to the communities where carbon reduction projects are based, according to new research by Imperial College London and the International Carbon Reduction and Offsetting Alliance (ICROA).
Unlocking The Hidden Value of Carbon Offsetting shows how purchasing carbon credits creates economic development opportunities, aids environmental conservation, and helps improve people’s lives by delivering household savings, health benefits and improving water resources, among other social benefits.
The amount of carbon reduced by such projects has been measured and independently verified for many years, but there has not been sufficient research conducted to measure and value the impact of investing in carbon offset programs beyond reducing emissions. The new research finds that each ton of carbon reduced has additional benefits — such as poverty alleviation, infrastructure development and nature conservation.
The findings also demonstrate that businesses with offsetting programs report corporate benefits such as enhanced brand image, engaged employees and market differentiation. They suggest the voluntary carbon market is a smart opportunity for businesses to consider as part of their sustainability strategies.
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Better identification and measurement of the extra social benefits of buying carbon credits could encourage more governments, companies and individuals to invest in projects that make a real difference to communities around the world, while reducing dangerous carbon emissions, the report concludes.
In February, Chevrolet unveiled a formula where US colleges and universities can earn money for certain upgrades that reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, as part of a new voluntary carbon-reduction initiative. Through this initiative, Chevy will buy and retire carbon credits resulting from some campuses’ GHG reductions from either their LEED-certified buildings or other campus-wide energy-saving initiatives. The program is part of the company’s voluntary goal set in 2010 to prevent up to 8 million metric tons of carbon emissions from entering the earth’s atmosphere.