It might not make sense to say the world runs on carbon, but almost everything the world runs on—like gasoline and coal—emits millions of tons of carbon. Ideally, the world will one day function with very little or no carbon emitted, but there’s no switch that can be flipped to immediately make the world carbon free. It’s an ongoing process that will take time.
In the meantime, there is a way to limit carbon in the atmosphere. It’s the carbon neutral movement, which involves balancing out emissions with activities that remove carbon from the atmosphere, like planting trees or funding the development of alternative energy sources.
There are already several leading retailers and service providers participating in carbon neutrality programs.
Carbon Neutral Shipping
According to the EPA, transportation accounts for 28 percent of greenhouse gas emissions, making shipping companies major contributors to carbon emissions. UPS, FedEx and DHL all participate in carbon neutral programs. Generally, these corporations become carbon neutral by purchasing carbon offsets. For a company like UPS, this means calculating their carbon output and purchasing that number of carbon offsets to become neutral.
If that sounds a little complicated, that’s ok. It is.
How Carbon Offsets Work
For a carbon offset to be effective, it needs to be evaluated by a third-party organization, like Gold Standard, Climate Registry and Verified Carbon Standard. These organizations make sure that every dollar spent goes to actually offsetting carbon and that the results are quantifiable.
The best carbon offsets are ones that are verified and well-defined, meaning they clearly go toward a specific program. Commonly, these programs are initiatives like reforestry programs and greenhouse gas-reducing projects at landfills.
For example, FedEx is funding forest rehabilitation for 27,000 acres of Tanzania’s Southern Highlands district. Different species of eucalyptus and pine will be planted and grown, and as they do, they’ll naturally capture and store carbon from the atmosphere.
Carbon Neutral Hotels
Hotels have joined the carbon neutral movement, too. The Saunders Hotel Group, a family-owned business operating six hotels on the east coast, purchases carbon offsets to neutralize outputs from each room in all their hotels. That may sounds like an expensive prospect, but the truth is it only costs Saunders $10,000, and the impact of their offsets is equivalent to taking 900-plus cars off the road per year.
While critics of the carbon neutral movement say it isn’t as effective as physically reducing the amount of CO2 emitted by conducting business, it still contributes in the fight toward reducing greenhouse gases. To learn about USAgain’s tree planting program, which will offset 5,000 tons of CO2 annually, go to www.usagain.com/trees.