As companies scramble to stake out a path to net zero, voluntary carbon credits – tradable certificates that show companies have funded the reduction of atmospheric CO2 – have grown in popularity. The theory is that a company can buy credits to fund projects that help curb emissions, thus compensating for their own pollutive output.
Ideally, a business would reduce its own emissions at the same time. When I wrote about carbon offsets back in July, EV member Hugh Reid commented that offsetting is like “pushing the brake while not actually lifting off the accelerator.”
Plus, carbon credits are far from perfect: it’s really hard to verify which credits (also known as offsets) actually do any good. Lots of credits fund schemes that might have gone ahead anyway, like renewable energy generation, or pre-planned tree planting. In those cases, carbon credits can do more harm than good: they give companies carte blanche to keep polluting, and falsely “compensate” for that pollution with meaningless pieces of paper. I tackle carbon markets in the latest Charts of the Week, too.
Several young companies are looking to fix this problem, and among the most exciting is London-based Supercritical. They help companies measure and reduce their carbon emissions. Its USP: it only deals in offsets that actually remove carbon from the atmosphere, rather than offsets that just pay other people to stop emitting CO2.
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