Guide

Cutting your carbon emissions

Purchasing carbon offsets

Your business should measure and, where possible, avoid and reduce emissions. This can also help your business save energy and money in the longer term. However, there are emissions that cannot be avoided, and you may wish to balance the impact of such emissions through the purchase of carbon offsets.

Offsetting involves paying someone, somewhere else, to save emissions equivalent to those you have produced. These emissions savings - or 'carbon credits' - come from a variety of projects in a number of different countries. However, you should remember that offsetting alone will not necessarily make your company carbon neutral.

How can you check the quality of offset products?

To help you choose good quality offsets make sure you use an offset provider that can:

  • calculate your emissions accurately
  • deliver credits within a year of your buying them
  • declare clearly how much the credits cost per tonne
  • provide you with information about the role of offsetting in tackling climate change and advice on how to reduce your carbon footprint

If you intend to purchase carbon offsets, you should take the time to check that you are confident that the offsets represent real, independently verified emission reductions or offer other benefits - such as environmental or social - that you would like to support.

Becoming carbon neutral

Many businesses want to become carbon neutral - ie to reduce or offset their emissions so that their total net emissions are zero. The business benefits of this include:

  • demonstrating a clear commitment to tackle climate change
  • engaging employees and consumers on environmental issues

Under the government's definition, becoming carbon neutral involves three stages:

  • calculating emissions - determining which emissions you're going to calculate, and collecting activity data on these
  • reducing emissions - assessing what reductions you can make and deciding how to achieve this
  • offsetting residual emissions - acquiring carbon credits to offset any emissions you can't reduce

The British Standards Institute (BSI) has also developed a Publicly Available Specification (PAS) 2060 on carbon neutrality. You can find PAS 2060 to buy online on the BSI website.