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We’ve Offset Our Occasions – Or At Least We Suppose We Have…

Many people are again in full swing to conferencing since international lockdowns. We went from internet hosting classes in our house places of work, to flying everywhere in the world to convention halls and motels, assembly a whole bunch of others doing the identical. As a lot as we welcome assembly in particular person once more, it was clear that business-as-usual occasions had considerably increased emissions than digital ones.

Eager to deal with the unavoidable emissions of our occasions, we determined to research offsetting our conferences. This journey has enabled us to – possibly — neutralize Cleantech Group’s occasions emissions, and definitely find out about emissions monitoring and offsetting industries within the course of.

Under is our step-by-step information and our learnings.

Step 1. Calculating Our Emissions

What We Did:

We first checked out emissions monitoring suppliers to provide us third-party transparency and accuracy from a mannequin that we didn’t have time to construct. Nevertheless, following a number of calls and quotes, we realised we couldn’t afford their companies, particularly after we obtained a quote the place the emissions monitoring was nearly 10 occasions the price of the precise offsets. We additionally discovered that after we picked a supplier who additionally supplied offsets, we didn’t have a lot selection or flexibility into the venture location or sort.

To start calculating emissions ourselves, we needed to decide what elements we knew of and had some management over. Though this doesn’t cowl all the emissions that might end result from our occasion, all of them are strong figures (apart from waste) that we may level to even earlier than the occasion started.

The desk under turned the premise of our calculations for carbon emissions.

Supply: Cleantech Group

What We Realized:

Modern instruments which now exist, even for SMEs, are usually not proper for our wants. We discovered they have been too costly, maybe too high-tech, and inappropriate for our ‘one off’ occasion emissions. This market remains to be in its nascency, with most suppliers based since 2019. As such, suppliers have but to achieve economies of scale to supply the low costs SMEs want. Moreover, a serious driver for emissions monitoring applied sciences is necessary disclosure rules, which would require giant corporations (usually over 500 workers) that monitor and disclose companywide emissions knowledge. The instruments which exist at current are largely catered to those giant corporations.

Step 2. Our 1.5 Overshoot Method

Supply: Cleantech Group

As soon as we had the related figures with a margin of waste, we plugged these numbers into varied carbon emissions calculators on-line. What we discovered was that these free on-line calculators gave us outcomes with excessive variances, regardless that we have been plugging in the identical preliminary quantities. To make up for these variations, we selected the best worth quoted for every class, which introduced us to 21.24 tonnes. From right here, we needed to make sure we coated any margin of error, so we determined so as to add an extra 50%, bringing us to 31.86 tonnes complete.

Whereas we hope the “1.5 Overshoot Method” serves to cowl our carbon emissions from the occasion (outdoors of particular person attendee journey), our efforts have been restricted in a couple of methods:

  • There’s a lack of case research for offsetting by yourself, whether or not or not it’s on your firm or occasions – there are not any greatest practices.
  • The free calculators fluctuate drastically in findings, making it onerous to ensure accuracy. We have no idea what emission elements they’re utilizing to create their calculations.
  • Our scope is restricted principally to GHG (greenhouse gasoline) emissions.

Step 3. Selecting ‘Good Offsets’

Some offsets don’t work, or solely work for a brief time period. There’s a magnitude of challenges to navigate when selecting the place to purchase offsets and what tasks are efficient and high-quality.

Supply: Cleantech Group

Consequently, we determined to

  • Use carbon removing credit nearly completely to keep away from complexities round altering additionality.
  • Discover tasks which have been licensed (e.g., through Verra or Carbon Registry).
  • Buy through a vendor we had executed our analysis on and trusted.

There have been three challenges with our strategy:

  1. As Cleantech Group, our place must be neutral, so we determined to choose as numerous of a portfolio as attainable to not favour any particular supplier.
  2. There weren’t many sellers we may purchase from with out signing as much as a program, subscription, or whom we contacted however didn’t get again to us.
  3. Only a few venture producers allowed us to purchase instantly from them.

What We Realized:

Challenges: The carbon offset market has a magnitude of challenges to navigate. Though we bought credit which have been licensed by third-parties, we felt we nonetheless wanted to use further quality control choosing solely removing credit.

Complexity: We had executed intensive analysis beforehand on suppliers, challenges and market dynamics so we understood what ‘high quality’ meant. This could exclude many firms who don’t have the time or experience to undertake this analysis and high quality management, growing the danger of greenwashing and unhealthy PR for the respective firm.

With all the above, we acknowledge a number of the expertise gaps being stuffed by innovation on this area.  With the challenges round high quality, we see marketplaces like Puro.Earth offering rankings and additional data on the offsets they promote. With the higher complexity on this market, we see why corporates want to specialist advisors like South Pole for giant orders or they’re producing their very own tasks.

Step 4. Portfolio Situations – Why Are We Doing This?

What We Did:

Seeking to first offset for Cleantech Discussion board Asia in October, we put collectively some instance portfolios of offset tasks to purchase. With the considerably restricted selection, between shopping for from marketplaces (principally Patch and Persefoni’s marketplaces) and shopping for from a supplier instantly, we adopted three themes. We then needed to look once more at why we have been offsetting within the first place.

  1. While staying as true as attainable to the principles above, did we simply need to have the ability to say we had offset and so we’d offset on the lowest value?
  2. Did we need to impression the situation the occasion was in?
  3. Or did we need to capitalize on the least explored co-benefit of offsets – funding innovation?
Supply: Cleantech Group

We ended up selecting a hybrid strategy of the latter two with the first give attention to innovation. These could be tasks the place offset funding helps to scale a brand new type of carbon removing. This strategy meant we’d be impacting our neighborhood in addition to offsetting our occasion footprint.

Supply: Cleantech Group

What We Realized: 

Choosing the ‘right’ offset tasks was extra of an artwork than a science, with our preliminary guidelines generally being thrown out in favour of an attention-grabbing venture which was modern and within the location of the occasion however was carbon avoidance.

As neutral and advantageous our venture choice strategy has been, it does make checking on these tasks tough. With only one tonne in some instances, throughout a number of tasks it might be an administrative nightmare to inspect all of those — to verify for permanence, co-benefits, or in the event that they even exist!

Plenty of this market is at the moment constructed on belief, which is in some areas bettering, however in others, transparency is being diluted. For instance, when Qatar was awarded to host the FIFA World Cup, they promised the occasion could be carbon impartial. As of November, Qatar nonetheless must buy 3.6 million tonnes of offsets, having solely bought 15% of their aim. Tasks are principally avoidance renewable vitality credit with questionable additionality.

As an alternative of buying through established registries, offsets have been verified by the not too long ago shaped Qatari ‘International Carbon Council’, main many to query their legitimacy and transparency in addition to the precedent to confirm poor high quality offsets being bought.

We now know there are specific truths about offsetting:


  • Pricing doesn’t essentially replicate high quality
  • There’s a lack of understanding on tasks

Shopping for

  • There are sometimes limitations to entry
  • There are restricted factors of sale
  • Lengthy achievement occasions usually plague offsetting

What’s Subsequent?

This isn’t an ideal course of – we acknowledge that there’s a lot room for enchancment. There are some methods for us to higher broaden this initiative.  Some ideas that come to thoughts:

  • Can we buy credit post-event so we are able to cowl all attendee journey emissions?
  • Ought to we add an choice at registration to permit attendees to contribute to offsetting the occasion to cowl their very own emissions?
  • How else can we enhance?

A method for us to progress is by having a greater understanding of our attendees’ personal actions. As part of our registration course of, we polled every attendee to see the place they have been touring from, their mode of transport and in the event that they have been offsetting their very own journey. We discovered the next:

  • 82 have been utilizing native transportation (bus & automobile)
  • 116 have been touring by prepare
  • 16 have been touring by automobile
  • 137 have been flying
Supply: Cleantech Group

To get a extra concrete view of what else was being emitted because of the occasion, we targeted on carbon emitted from flights to the occasion and the way a lot was already being offset. What we discovered was attention-grabbing – lower than half of the attendees determined to offset their journey. Why is that this?

  • Do people not need to spend additional firm cash?
  • Do they not belief the carbon offsets that the airways are providing?
  • Is offsetting extra of a regional norm relying on what nation you’re in?
  • As members of corporations working within the sustainable innovation sector, ought to offsetting firm journey be an anticipated motion?

The purpose of this train was to not grasp carbon offsets on our first attempt – it was simply to attempt. We needed to know how tough it’s for an SME to measure their emissions and offset them on their very own. We’re right here to do our half, irrespective of how small within the grand scheme of the local weather disaster, and it’s a work in progress.  Keep tuned as we proceed to offset our occasions.

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