Basics on Carbon Offsetting

 

Q: What is carbon offsetting?

A: Carbon offsetting is a mechanism for companies or individuals to invest in specific projects as a means to counteract some of the emissions associated with their daily practices. On a broader scale, offsetting emissions assists in addressing your individual contribution to global warming. Neutral Together is a carbon offsetting program tailored specifically to the travel industry. You can read more about it in this article

Carbon offsetting can be viewed as an ‘earth tax’ – that is, after emitting carbon into the atmosphere, offsets help ensure your impact on global emissions is net zero. 

 

Q: I’ve never done this before where should I start?

A: To find out more about how our travel industry offsetting program, Neutral Together, works then start by listening to our Webinar which was live in December https://www.adventuretravel.biz/education/webinars/neutral-together-bulk-carbon-offsetting-for-atta-members

View this presentation for a step – by – step on how to proceed. It is includes templates for organizing emissions data.  

 

Q: How can I measure different components of my businesses emissions?

A: The calculator is set up to help measure different components of your company’s emissions. A great way to start is to watch the demo video to understand the calculator and its various settings. We also have a workbook for those businesses who are calculating for the first time. 

 

Q: Can I make adjustments throughout the year to the amount I offset?

A: No. You will enter a total volume for the year and report that to ATTA. We aggregate the industry volume and submit it to South Pole. Based on the total volume, we receive a per ton price. You are encouraged to keep track of emissions throughout the year and report them one time a year, through NT. 

 

Q: I partner with several other adventure companies who are members of ATTA. How can we be sure we’re not double-offsetting on experiences we jointly provide?

A: After the first year, ATTA will be able to publish a list of participating companies. In 2020, our first year, we encourage suppliers to talk with each other and coordinate. It is reasonable to expect that cooperating suppliers could each agree to offset their portion of a single itinerary. 

 

Q: Where does my offset come from?

A: Your offset will come from one of three project-types arranged with South Pole. You may click on the links below to see a working example of a project South Pole currently has in place for the project categories ATTA members can fund. Participants in Neutral Together cannot select a specific project to fund; each participant prioritizes a project type, and when all volumes are reported along with participant preferences for either forestry, renewable energy, or cookstoves, the exact projects are selected. Sample projects from the Neutral Together categories are here:

To view South Pole’s broader portfolio of climate action projects, click here

 

Q: I heard that offsetting cause more harm than good?

A: Carbon offsets are an important part of addressing climate change, however, they alone are not the solution to reducing global emissions. Once carbon is emitted, it is in the atmosphere – offsetting is a secondary action to not emitting in the first place. Offsetting is far from perfect, but it is a tool that we can use immediately while we transition to lower carbon futures. 

Here at ATTA, we see carbon offsetting as part of a suite of actions to reduce our contribution to global warming. You can read more about ATTA’s climate action initiatives here

 

Q: Why is ATTA partnering with South Pole?

A: South Pole is a reputable company in the Carbon Offsetting space. South Pole originated in Switzerland and has grown to have offices across the globe. 

 

Q: Can you tell us what percentage of Neutral Together portfolio will be made up of offsets from tree-planting or other types of projects? 

The exact percentage will depend on what the ATTA community prioritizes in their selections. Each company has the choice to prioritize one of three types of projects: Forestry, Renewable Energy or Cookstoves. Neutral Together will not be working with soils projects at this time. 

 

Q: I’ve heard of Verra and Gold Standard, but what do they mean?

A: All certified carbon projects need to adhere to internationally recognized standards in order to generate carbon credits that can be purchased by organizations. All projects are audited regularly by independent third party organisations and Verra and Gold Standard are two of the leading 3rd party organizations/standards that have established methodologies and criteria under which carbon projects need to adhere to to become certified. Read more about them below:

Gold Standard 

Established in 2003 by WWF and other international NGOs to ensure projects that reduced carbon emissions under the UN’s Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) also contributed to sustainable development. It launched its Gold Standard for the Global Goals standard in 2017, enabling climate and development initiatives to quantify, certify, and maximise climate and sustainable development impacts.

Gold Standard has more than 80 NGO supporters and 1400+ certified projects in over 80 countries, creating billions of dollars of shared value from climate and development action worldwide.

Verra 

The VCS (Verified Carbon Standard) Program is the world’s most widely used voluntary emissions reduction standard. More than 1300 certified VCS projects have reduced or removed more than 200 million tonnes of carbon and other greenhouse gases from the atmosphere.

Along with the Climate, Community & Biodiversity, and Sustainable Development Verified Impact standards, it was developed and is managed by Verra, a registered 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization founded in 2005 by environmental and business leaders and based in Washington, DC.

 

Q: Does South Pole use a publicly accessible registry to track offsets? How do you ensure that your offsets are only sold to one buyer? And do you “retire” offsets that you sell?

A: All carbon credits are serialized and housed in public digital registries. These registries are publicly available and ensure the transparency and tracking of every single carbon credit ever created. Once a carbon credit is retired on behalf of an ATTA member (or any entity) that is done so in the public registry and once a specific carbon credit is retired it can never be sold, traded or retired again. This ensures that there is no double-counting of credits. Verra Registry: https://verra.org/registry-system/

 

Q: How does South Pole address the additionality criteria to ensure that they contribute to the adoption of additional sustainable-energy projects, rather than simply funding existing projects?

A: Each standard under which South Pole projects are certified have specific mandatory guidelines on how additionality is determined. For a project to be certified by Verra or Gold Standard it must demonstrate additionality. All South Pole projects are certified under established standards that have clear additionality guidelines. 

Verra Standard Overview: https://verra.org/project/vcs-program/

Gold Standard: https://www.goldstandard.org/take-action/certify-project

 

Q: Are 100 per cent of your offsets validated and verified by accredited third parties?

Yes! Every single one of South Pole’s carbon credits and carbon projects are validated and verified by third parties such as Gold Standard and Verra. South Pole does not work with any projects that do not adhere to best in class certification criteria. 

 

Q: If Neutral Together is selling offsets that will be created in the future, what mechanisms are in place to ensure those offsets will actually be delivered?

A: Companies participating in Neutral Together will only be purchasing existing credits, not offsets that will be created in the future. 

 

  1. Where can I read more about the process of offsetting?

A good place to start is on the South Pole website. If you are interested in staying up to date on climate news as it relates to the travel industry, join our mailing list to receive the Climate Action News Bulletin. https://www.adventuretravel.biz/neutral-together

 

Q: Where can I find information on offsetting very large amounts of carbon, such as 20,000 tons and above?

If you are offsetting at a high volume already, you would likely receive a volume discount from your provider and may want to customize a program of offsetting projects. If you are interested to learn more about offsetting more than 20,000 tons, you could contact South Pole or any another offsetting partner you choose directly to develop a customized program for your business. Of course, you are still welcome to participate through Neutral Together! 

 

Q: Who do I contact if I have more questions regarding the development of offsets and the suppliers?

For more information, contact ATTA’s climate team at [email protected]

 
   
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