Many people are again in full swing to conferencing since world lockdowns. We went from internet hosting periods in our house workplaces, to flying all around the world to convention halls and lodges, assembly tons of 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 larger emissions than digital ones.

Eager to deal with the unavoidable emissions of our occasions, we determined to analyze offsetting our conferences. This journey has enabled us to – perhaps — neutralize Cleantech Group’s occasions emissions, and positively study emissions monitoring and offsetting industries within the course of.

Beneath 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 offer us third-party transparency and accuracy from a mannequin that we didn’t have time to construct. Nonetheless, 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 virtually 10 instances the price of the precise offsets. We additionally discovered that after we picked a supplier who additionally provided offsets, we didn’t have a lot selection or flexibility into the mission location or sort.

To start calculating emissions ourselves, we needed to decide what components we knew of and had some management over. Though this doesn’t cowl all the emissions that may consequence from our occasion, all of them are stable figures (in addition to waste) that we may level to even earlier than the occasion started.

The desk beneath turned the idea of our calculations for carbon emissions.

Supply: Cleantech Group

What We Realized:

Progressive instruments which now exist, even for SMEs, will not be 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 continues to be in its nascency, with most suppliers based since 2019. As such, suppliers have but to succeed in economies of scale to supply the low costs SMEs want. Moreover, a significant driver for emissions monitoring applied sciences is necessary disclosure rules, which would require massive corporations (typically over 500 staff) that monitor and disclose companywide emissions information. The instruments which exist at current are largely catered to those massive 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 numerous carbon emissions calculators on-line. What we discovered was that these free on-line calculators gave us outcomes with excessive variances, although we have been plugging in the identical preliminary quantities. To make up for these variations, we selected the very best worth quoted for every class, which introduced us to 21.24 tonnes. From right here, we wished to make sure we lined any margin of error, so we determined so as to add a further 50%, bringing us to 31.86 tonnes whole.

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 just a few methods:

  • There’s a lack of case research for offsetting by yourself, whether or not it’s to your firm or occasions – there aren’t any finest practices.
  • The free calculators fluctuate drastically in findings, making it onerous to ensure accuracy. We have no idea what emission components they’re utilizing to create their calculations.
  • Our scope is restricted largely 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 initiatives are efficient and high-quality.

Supply: Cleantech Group

Consequently, we determined to

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

There have been three challenges with our strategy:

  1. As Cleantech Group, our place ought to be neutral, so we determined to choose as numerous of a portfolio as potential 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 mission producers allowed us to purchase straight 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 extra qc choosing solely elimination credit.

Complexity: We had achieved in depth analysis beforehand on suppliers, challenges and market dynamics so we understood what ‘high quality’ meant. This is able to exclude many companies who don’t have the time or experience to undertake this analysis and high quality management, rising the chance of greenwashing and dangerous PR for the respective firm.

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

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 initiatives to purchase. With the considerably restricted selection, between shopping for from marketplaces (largely Patch and Persefoni’s marketplaces) and shopping for from a supplier straight, 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 potential to the foundations 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 wish to influence the placement the occasion was in?
  3. Or did we wish 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 deal with innovation. These can be initiatives the place offset funding helps to scale a brand new type of carbon elimination. This strategy meant we’d be impacting our group in addition to offsetting our occasion footprint.

Supply: Cleantech Group

What We Realized: 

Deciding on the ‘right’ offset initiatives was extra of an artwork than a science, with our preliminary guidelines typically being thrown out in favour of an fascinating mission which was revolutionary and within the location of the occasion however was carbon avoidance.

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

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

As a substitute of buying through established registries, offsets have been verified by the not too long ago shaped Qatari ‘World 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 mirror high quality
  • There’s a lack of knowledge on initiatives

Shopping for

  • There are sometimes limitations to entry
  • There are restricted factors of sale
  • Lengthy success instances typically 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 develop 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 possibility 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 practice
  • 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 fascinating – lower than half of the attendees determined to offset their journey. Why is that this?

  • Do people not wish to spend further 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 strive – it was simply to strive. We wished to know how troublesome it’s for an SME to measure their emissions and offset them on their very own. We’re right here to do our half, regardless 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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