Offsetting one tonne of carbon dioxide brings an additional $664 in benefits to the communities where carbon reduction projects are based, according to research published today.
The research, carried out by Imperial College London in partnership with the International Carbon Reduction and Offsetting Alliance (ICROA), demonstrates 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 rigorously measured and independently verified for many years, but to date there has not been academic research conducted to measure and value the impact of investing in carbon offset programmes1 beyond reducing emissions. This research finds that each tonne of carbon reduced has additional benefits – such as poverty alleviation, infrastructure development and nature conservation – worth $664, meaning that businesses which are voluntarily offsetting their emissions are having a bigger impact than perceived.
The findings of the study also demonstrate that businesses with offsetting programmes report corporate benefits such as enhanced brand image, engaged employees and market differentiation.
“The voluntary carbon market is a smart opportunity for businesses to consider as part of their sustainability strategies,” says ICROA Programme Director, Sophy Greenhalgh. “This research demonstrates offset programmes deliver numerous business objectives, such as employee engagement and resource efficiency savings, and make a positive contribution to local communities in addition to reducing emissions.”
“By utilising latest natural capital accounting methodologies, we have been able to demonstrate the impact offset projects are delivering on the ground,” says Yiannis Kountouris, an environmental economist at Imperial College.
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, whilst reducing dangerous carbon emissions, finds the report. You can download the full report here.