Carbon Reduction, Removal & Offsetting Explained
In the last decade, more countries, companies and institutions have set “net-zero” carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions targets than ever before, calling for carbon-reduction, -removal and -offsetting as solutions to combating climate change. However, the problem these entities face amid mounting pressure and the rise of ESG investing is that CO2 emissions can be challenging to manage, and costly to remove or offset.
But, what do these terms mean? Put simply, carbon-reduction is the process of an organisation directly reducing their greenhouse gas emissions by implementing technologies and protocols that assist with efficiencies. In contrast, carbon-removal is the process of directly removing CO2 from the atmosphere and storing if for the long term, while carbon-offsetting is a trade-off where companies get credit for funding outside projects that reduce CO2 emissions.
In 2019, the UK government made the decision to remove emissions from industry, farming, transport and homes completely within thirty years – essentially the achievement of net-zero by 2050. Only a few sectors where emissions are near impossible to avoid are allowed to offset or remove CO2 as part of this goal. In light of this target, the Committee for Climate Change commented that there is a 50-50 chance that the world will stay below the recommended 1.5°C temperature increase by 2100, if other countries follow the UK’s lead.
You might be wondering why carbon-removal and -offsetting aren’t being used to a larger extent though. A study has found that the climate response to removing carbon from the atmosphere by planting trees (i.e. carbon-offsetting) or capturing CO2 directly and storing it underground or in products (i.e. carbon-removal), is asymmetrical. Therefore, the carbon cycle and climate response to CO2 emissions is not equivalent to CO2 removals of the same size in an attempt to offset the emissions. In fact, it is said that less than 5% of offsets actually remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.
Besides the fact that they aren’t as effective as avoiding the emissions in the first place, carbon-removal and -offsets are costly to implement. Pair that with the increased attractiveness of companies with lower carbon footprints to ESG investors, and it isn’t difficult to see why carbon reduction makes the most sense.
At Energy Drive, we help our clients achieve an average of 61% in energy savings on suitable applications (with some of our clients achieving up to 80% in energy savings on certain installations). By implementing our zero-capex energy saving solution, we reduce the amount of electricity used by your facility resulting in a lower carbon footprint and decreased energy costs. “Energy Drive combines established energy-saving technology in the form of variable speed drives, online monitoring and analytics with an off-balance sheet financial model that forms an innovative offering for our clients. Dealing with the following three key hurdles: Resources (human and/or financial capital), Risk (of trying new technology) and Reporting (to provide robust, intuitive monitoring), is paramount in realising key sustainability targets”, says Dave Betts, Energy Drive Group Market Development Executive UK.
For over a decade, Energy Drive have partnered with numerous companies in various industries to actualise their sustainability goals, with 676.3 million kgs of CO2, SO2, and NOx emissions reduced collectively to date. To find out how your company can do the same, contact us here.
Appunn, K., 2021. The Carbon Balancing Act: Emission Reduction and Removal in the Bid for Net-Zero.
Greenhalgh, T., 2020. Carbon Reduction vs. Carbon Offset – What’s the Difference?
Shankleman, J. and Rathi, A., 2021. Wall Street’s Favorite Climate Solution is Mired in Disagreements.
Zickfield, K., 2021. Why CO2 Removal is Not Equal and Opposite to Reducing Emissions.