Carbon Neutrality for Sustainable Business

What is carbon offsetting?
Over the past fifty years, greenhouse gases like CO2 and methane have been building up in the earth’s atmosphere causing it to warm up. This has become known as global warming or climate change.

Climate change is a big problem.

As the atmosphere warms up, weather becomes less predictable and sea levels rise. Droughts, flooding and storm surges cause considerable damage and displace millions from their homes. The costs are estimated to rise to several per cent of global gross domestic product (GDP) every year within our lifetimes.

How are businesses responding to this?

Initially people looked to their governments. But achieving political consensus has proved too difficult for any meaningful action.

Instead sustainable businesses are now taking responsibility for their own greenhouse gas emissions, reducing where possible, and investing in technology and projects elsewhere to cover what’s left and achieve carbon neutrality.

Carbon offsetting is the process of investing in a project carefully designed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, in response to the emissions left over after you reduced them as much as possible. The net result of all this is zero – and combined with the reductions you already made, takes responsibility for your whole carbon footprint instead of just the most convenient part. Reducing your emissions without offsetting the rest is a job half done.

Sustainable businesses which reduce and then offset their carbon footprint are no longer contributors to climate change.

The QAS audits carbon offsets to the highest standards in the world, so you can be sure that the emission reductions you are buying to take full responsibility for your own carbon footprint are real.

What makes a good offset project?

QAS criteria include the highest standards for project methodology, including the United Nations Clean Development Mechanism, The Gold Standard and the Voluntary Carbon Standard (version 2 onwards).

Key criteria revolve around the following principles:

  • Measurability
  • Additional to ‘business as usual’
  • Verification
  • Permanence
  • Uniqueness/ no double-counting
  • Avoidance of leakage

There is a considerable emphasis put on sustainability factors, for example making it mandatory for any VCS project stating social benefits to have both Social Carbon and CCBA accreditation.

The QAS also approves REDD+ projects which bring additional exciting benefits such as:

  • un-redd-logo-300Conservation of forest biodiversity
  • Water regulation
  • Soil conservation
  • Direct social benefits such as jobs
  • Livelihoods
  • Development of local economies

Making the complex world of carbon offsetting a bit simpler

Sourcing good carbon offsets can present a considerable challenge for small to medium size businesses who wish to become carbon neutral. Environmental integrity is paramount to each purchase yet a bewildering array of methodologies, standards and esoteric detail make it difficult to ensure that the most marketable carbon credits are also the most robust and reliable.

The Quality Assurance Standard simplifies this complexity. At least 40 checks are carried out annually on our approved carbon offsets covering emissions factors, calculation methodologies, project methodologies, registry retiral, radiative forcing index, DEFRA Green Claims Guidance, pricing, information provision and individual company checks, vastly simplifying the whole process of carbon offset procurement.

We also make sure that QAS approved carbon offsets steer clear of contentious issues that could add risk to your purchase, such as large hydro projects, HFC23 or companies which advocate the use of carbon credits for investment purposes.

QAS Carbon Neutrality Mark

Companies purchasing QAS-approved carbon offsets are entitled to use the QAS Carbon Neutral Mark to highlight their environmental commitment on their own websites. There is no charge for this service.

QAS Carbon Neutral Marks last 12 months, are date stamped by the year of expiry and are always accompanied by a brief description of the activity made carbon neutral, the tonnage of CO2 which has been offset and the time period involved.

The Marks come in five different sizes to fit any web page.

Contact us if you’re interested in using our Carbon Neutral Quality Mark.

QAS Carbon Neutrality Mark

Benefits of QAS approved carbon offsets for Sustainable Business

  • One recognisable Quality Mark to make good carbon offsets easy to find
  • Better information on the sites you buy from
  • Reassurance of using the highest standard of offset worldwide
  • Regular scrutiny through independent audit
  • Free Carbon Neutral Quality Mark to promote your environmental credentials
Heather Haydock

Heather Haydock, Director – Energy & Climate Change Practice, Ricardo Energy & Environment

Supporting statement from Ricardo Energy & Environment

Ricardo Energy & Environment is pleased to act as the Quality Assurance Standard’s (QAS) independent auditor and has done so since the QAS’s inception in 2012. As part of our work for the QAS we audit offsets against at least 40 criteria. The QAS therefore ensures that companies providing approved carbon offsetting services accurately calculate emissions and deliver real carbon savings within a defined period. Ricardo Energy & Environment is one of the world’s leading providers of energy and climate change consultancy services with a reputation based on scientific and technical excellence. Experts in greenhouse gas emission foot printing and reporting, we are therefore able to provide the robust independent auditing services required by the QAS.