Our selection of the best companies for carbon offsetting

Line Itani
Growth Analyst

CSR, an increasingly important issue in the post-Covid era

The ecological transformation of companies is no longer just a trend. It has become a responsibility. And while it's important for businesses to operate in a green way, most of them will inevitably produce greenhouse gas emissions. That's why we've seen the rise of numerous carbon offsetting companies.

And while it's important for businesses to operate in a green way, most of them will inevitably produce greenhouse gas emissions. That's why we've seen the rise of numerous carbon offsetting companies.

While corporate social responsibility had already played an important role in business decisions before the onset of the crisis, it seems that the pandemic is only increasing this impact.

So, in 2020, the world couldn't help but notice the drop in CO₂ emissions as populations around the world were confined away from their respective industries. And, according to the Financial Times, the carbon offset market has soared, along with the pandemic. This "reflects a broader commitment to reducing the environmental impact of corporate activities", aimed at achieving the Paris Agreement's goal of keeping global warming below 2°C.

What is carbon offsetting and why should you consider it?

Carbon offsetting initiatives offset a company's emissions independently of its efforts to reduce its carbon footprint. These activities involve the implementation of clean energy technologies (usually in developing countries) or the purchase of carbon credits as part of an emissions trading scheme. 

More often than not, they also involve planting trees to absorb CO₂ directly from the air. As we mention in our article describing how to make business travel more sustainable, "tree planting can cost as little as 5 to 10 euros per metric ton of CO₂ captured - equivalent to an increase of less than one euro per ticket per passenger on an average short-haul flight."

A carbon-neutral company demonstrates its commitment to climate protection and by appealing to environmentally conscious stakeholders. In today's world, and as Covid-19 has shown people that CO₂ emissions can decrease, corporate success is proving increasingly linked to eco-responsibility.

Who can offset carbon?

Companies and organizations, governments and individuals can participate in carbon offsetting.

All companies can integrate carbon offsetting into their corporate social responsibility (CSR) strategy. However, it is important to note that voluntary carbon offsetting should not be the only strategy for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Ideally, a company should first implement measures to reduce its own emissions before resorting to offsetting.

Most major companies are now moving towards a carbon-neutral future. In September, Facebook and Google followed in the footsteps of Microsoft and Apple by putting "no excess carbon into the atmosphere", as this Guardian article puts it.

This makes Amazon the latest member in good standing of GAFAM, the largest group of American technology companies. To take their commitment a step further, Google has retroactively offset all carbon since its inception, and Facebook has pledged that its emissions will be zero and that its operations will be entirely supported by renewable energy.

The state can also implement carbon offset programs to compensate for the emissions generated by their activities, such as investing in reforestation or renewable energy projects.

Finally, individuals can also offset their CO2 emissions by helping to finance carbon offset projects. There are services that enable them to calculate their personal carbon footprint and take action to offset it.

Is carbon offsetting mandatory?

Carbon offsetting is not compulsory, but it is possible that in a few years' time, all companies and local authorities will be subject to emission reduction and offsetting targets. So, if you commit to taking steps now, you can anticipate regulatory changes, improve your ecological footprint and start taking action on climate change.

The aim is to have a neutral or even positive carbon footprint, in order to help build an economy that is more respectful of the planet. This approach concerns both large and small companies. All projects aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions are encouraged. After all, every contribution counts when it comes to preserving our environment!

How can you reduce your company's carbon footprint?

In addition to carbon offsetting, there are many ways to reduce your corporate carbon footprint by adopting practices that favor the ecological transition and sustainable development. Here are a few ideas for reducing your corporate carbon footprint:

  • Opt for renewable energy suppliers

If you haven't already done so, you can choose a supplier offering green electricity. Green electricity is produced using renewable energies, and contrary to popular belief, it is not necessarily more expensive than conventional, "gray" electricity.

  • Favoring eco-friendly advertising

We recommend that you choose ecological advertising over mass advertising, which takes into account the three pillars of sustainable development: economic, social and environmental. The idea is to produce slow content, which means offering more qualitative rather than quantitative content, or to use recyclable paper and media. Ecological advertising requires fewer energy resources and therefore has a low environmental impact.

  • Choose service providers with a good carbon footprint

Whenever possible, choose service providers who are aware of their environmental impact and have obtained certification for their product or service. However, beware of greenwashing: find out all you can about the service provider before you commit yourself!

Finally, don't hesitate to train the staff in each department, either yourself or by bringing in specialists (preferably by videoconference to avoid travel) to discuss carbon footprint issues.

What is the current state of carbon offsetting?

The current state of carbon offsetting in France is encouraging, with an increase in the number of market players selling carbon credits. A recent study shows a 31% increase in total credits between 2022 and 2023 (from 30 to 40 million tonnes of CO2 on average). This growth is all the more significant in the case of low-carbon label credits, which show an increase of 230%. This increase is due in particular to the compensation of domestic flights under the Climate and Resilience Act, which has stimulated demand for credits in France.

The main carbon offsetting organizations to consider

It's no secret that business travel is one of the main carbon-emitting business activities, particularly in non-industrial organizations. While some travel platforms have integrated carbon offsetting, allowing companies to offset travel-related carbon emissions during the booking process, you can also choose to opt for a broader offset program that covers more than just travel. Don't forget that employee buy-in is essential; choose an offset program that will resonate with your teams.

Here are some carbon offsetting initiatives to consider:

After achieving its first million tonnes of CO₂ reductions in 2007, Climate Care has deployed over $100 million on projects to create positive social and environmental impact. To put numbers to their work, Climate Care has reduced 43 million tons CO₂, provided 8 billion liters of drinking water and supplied 10 million MWh of clean energy. This company, which implements its projects all over the world, is ideal if you're looking to help countries in the South as part of your program. Their goal is to reduce CO₂ by 50 million tonnes by 2025.

EcoAct consults with companies and develops their projects to help them achieve their climate ambitions. The company has been delivering decarbonization strategies for over 15 years, partnering with companies to provide the widest range of best-in-class solutions and implementing them in developing countries. From simple compliance to achieving Net Zero, EcoAct provides a comprehensive set of services and in-depth knowledge of the subject.

Concentrating its activity on the UK territory, this carbon offset company is a good starting point for companies adopting an offset policy close to home. Having planted over 9.5 million new trees in more than 172 new forests in the UK since 2006, it is helping to remove more than 1,900,000 tonnes of CO₂ from the global atmosphere. This results in additional externalities for society, including flood control, watercourse enhancement and public access.

To guarantee quality, the British government has adopted the Woodland Carbon Code, which supervises and certifies their projects.

90% of Atmosfair's projects adhere to the CDM Gold Standard, one of the most stringent standards for climate protection projects. On their website, you'll also find a resource section with tips on green travel. This can be useful for companies looking to reduce their carbon footprint, even before offsetting begins.

With over 20 years' experience in this field, First Climate provides carbon and water management services. The company works with public and private sector organizations to achieve their climate and sustainability goals. It focuses on products and services related to carbon neutrality, green energy, water management, green investments and project development. Its projects are mainly based in Germany and Southeast Asia.

With a team of 350 experts, South Pole guides companies towards innovative solutions to achieve their sustainability goals. The company can help you purchase carbon credits if required, propose renewable energy solutions, offer advice on the sustainability of your business, as well as develop offset projects. To date, it has developed over 700 projects in 40 countries.

Using a climate action loop and continuous improvement approach, Carbon Sink helps companies find the most appropriate solutions in relation to their industry peers. The company operates both internally, by optimizing companies' supply chains (with insetting), and externally (with offsetting). Its projects are mainly focused on Italy and the South.

With projects in North America, Australia, Japan and the Global South, this company has been carbon neutral since 2007. It helps its customers by offering them the best practices for evolving within the green economy. Promethium Carbon advises governments and multinationals on strategies to reduce their carbon footprint.

Further information

Launched at the end of September 2020, The Oxford Principles for Net Zero Aligned Carbon Offsetting aims to contribute to offsetting achieving a "net zero" society through 4 guidelines, developed in their document:

  1. Give priority to reducing your own emissions, ensure the environmental integrity of any offsets used and disclose how offsets are used
  2. Move offsetting towards carbon removal, where offsets directly remove carbon from the atmosphere
  3. Move offsetting towards long-term storage, which removes carbon from the atmosphere on a permanent or quasi-permanent basis.
  4. Support the development of a market for Net Zero offsets.

In a nutshell

If your company is planning to move towards carbon neutrality, or is simply looking to become more responsible by offsetting the carbon emitted by some of its processes, the offsetting initiatives above will be a good starting point for your research. Whether you're more interested in implementing projects close to home or looking to countries in the Global South, whether you're planting trees to remove CO₂ from the air or investing in providing renewable energy solutions to communities, these companies will help you achieve your offsetting goals.

However, avoid what many call a "lax" approach to offsetting. In short, implementing offset initiatives doesn't exempt companies from rethinking their approaches to reducing their carbon footprint even before offsetting unavoidable emissions. Follow Oxford's principles for an even more thorough approach to transforming your business into a truly eco-responsible enterprise.

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