Becoming a corporate leader in reducing carbon emissions will require significant investments in carbon reduction or offsetting initiatives that will vary depending on your industry. These initiatives are becoming more and more critical for business continuity, employee retention, governance and meeting your overall ESG targets as new standards and status-quos are set across the board.
Quick Facts: Carbon sources release more carbon than they absorb; on the contrary, carbon sinks absorb more carbon than they release. To become a carbon sink company, you must develop and implement multiple strategies.
Aiming directly for carbon sink status can be rather ambitious, so most companies are now focusing on reducing their overall emissions and gaining carbon neutral or net-zero emission status. By lowering or balancing carbon emissions with carbon offsetting initiatives, like reforestation, you can ensure that your company is on its way toward becoming a carbon sink. This article will explain how you can utilize nature in your carbon reduction and ESG strategy and choose the right organization to help you achieve your goals.
Before employing any carbon reduction or offsetting strategies, measuring all of your emissions correctly is critical. A recent study by the Technical University of Munich (TUM) found that most technology companies underreport their Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions. Out of 56 major technology companies surveyed, 390 megatons of carbon dioxide equivalents were not included in reporting due to overlooking factors along their value chain.
To accurately determine your current carbon emissions, you must account for the emissions categories defined by the Greenhouse Gas Protocol: Scope 1 (direct emissions), Scope 2 (emissions from energy production), and Scope 3 (emissions from activities along your value chain). These often account for most of your carbon emissions. Once this is done, you are ready to begin your carbon reduction or offset planning.
How Does a Company Reach Net Zero?
Using energy-efficient materials, improving manufactured products, and employing initiatives that incorporate nature has proven to be the most effective strategy to achieve net-zero. Industry leaders in sustainability have been shown to use a combination of approaches.
How To Use Nature for Carbon Offsetting
Before exploring how your company can include nature in your net zero strategies, you should first understand how nature absorbs carbon. Carbon sequestration is the process by which atmospheric carbon is absorbed into plants, soils, and water. In plants, this occurs through photosynthesis. According to the US Environmental protection Agency (EPA), a mature tree can absorb up to 48 pounds of carbon in a year. Between 2001 and 2019, global forests were responsible for absorbing 7.6 gigatons of CO2 per year from the atmosphere.
Your company can employ nature-based processes that sequester carbon, including:
- Afforestation. The planting of new forests on land without trees.
- Reforestation. Replanting trees in areas that natural factors have destroyed.
- Forest preservation or avoided deforestation. Preserving existing forests and discouraging practices that require deforestation.
- Forest management. Ensuring that planted forests are well taken care of by putting regulations in place that discourage destruction. Also, by planting and replanting different species of trees.
Planting a tree seedling may seem simple, but you must consider everything that needs to happen to protect that seedling and build a robust, biodiverse forest around it. There is also significant effort to ensure that they grow to their fullest potential and absorb carbon dioxide effectively. In the case of forests, you must also assess how much new growth is in your forest to optimize carbon capture and storage and ultimately increase your offsetting potential. Forest maintenance is also critical to ensure the forest is appropriately cared for and protected throughout its growth.
The best way to employ and manage your nature-based carbon offsetting strategies is to partner with companies who will plant, manage and protect carbon sequestering resources such as forests. It’s also important to ensure that the companies you work with are fully transparent about the process, from procurement to planting and the preservation of your investment. This will ensure that your investment will effectively meet the targets you’ve agreed to offset.
Choosing the Right Nature Partner
Many organizations can help kick start your carbon sink planning, but you must ensure that they implement industry-leading tools and processes. It is important to do the necessary research to ensure that the company you are investing in provides the location, size, and age of your forest, along with estimates of forest cover and forest management practices. They should also provide ongoing reporting on the growth and impact of the forest.
Canada Forest Trust is dedicated to helping companies of any size enhance their carbon sink pathway. In addition to planting forests, accurate metrics and monitoring are available to ensure that your company can effectively include these forest investments in your GHG reporting and Carbon Offsetting plans. Start by estimating your potential impact with this tool here.
- Best practices for including Carbon Sinks in GHG Inventories (EPA)
- Three reasons companies are investing in forest conservation and restoration and how they do it
- Create a carbon strategy to gain competitive advantage of your business
- Tech companies take steps towards net zero
Carbon Sources and Sinks | National Geographic Society. https://education.nationalgeographic.org/resource/carbon-sources-and-sinks/