What is the dollar value of carbon offsetting?

An Imperial College University Study shows that for every 1 tonne of CO2 emission removed from the atmosphere through a carbon offset program- a further value of US$664 dollars is delivered in economic, social and environmental benefits for local communities around the world.

LONDON, 3rd September – Offsetting one tonne of carbon dioxide brings an additional $664 in benefits to the communities where carbon reduction projects are based, according to research published today.

The research, carried out by Imperial College London in partnership with the International Carbon Reduction and Offsetting Alliance (ICROA), demonstrates how purchasing carbon credits creates economic development opportunities, aids environmental conservation and helps improve people’s lives by delivering household savings, health benefits and improving water resources, among other social benefits.

The amount of carbon reduced by such projects has been rigorously measured and independently verified for many years, but to date there has not been academic research conducted to measure and value the impact of investing in carbon offset programs beyond reducing emissions.

Offsetting Benefits

This research finds that each tonne of carbon reduced has additional benefits – such as poverty alleviation, infrastructure development and nature conservation – worth  $664, meaning that businesses which are voluntarily offsetting their emissions are having a bigger impact than perceived.

The findings of the study also demonstrate that businesses with offsetting programs report corporate benefits such as enhanced brand image, engaged employees and market differentiation.

“The voluntary carbon market is a smart opportunity for businesses to consider as part of their sustainability strategies,” says ICROA Program Director, Sophy Greenhalgh.

“This research demonstrates offset programs deliver numerous business objectives, such as employee engagement and resource efficiency savings, and make a positive contribution to local communities in addition to reducing emissions.”

“By utilising latest natural capital accounting methodologies, we have been able to demonstrate the impact offset projects are delivering on the ground,” says Yiannis Kountouris, an environmental economist at Imperial College.

Better identification and measurement of the extra social benefits of buying carbon credits could encourage more governments, companies and individuals to invest in projects that make a real difference to communities around the world, whilst reducing dangerous carbon emissions, finds the report.

How the study was conducted:

The study took a two-pronged approach. Firstly, data was collected from 59 offset projects around the globe and all the social and economic benefits were quantified then monetized utilizing environmental economics methodologies.

Imperial calculated the total value of aggregated benefit in order to determine the value per tonne of carbon dioxide for this sample.

additional benefits

These initial results show promise for evaluating projects in a more holistic manner over time.

The second prong of the research investigated 72 of the larger companies participating in voluntary carbon offsetting programs. Surveys were undertaken to gather tangible business benefits that had come about by implementing an offset program.

Further information including their willingness to pay (WTP) for additional social and environmental benefits were also gathered.

The International Carbon Reduction and Offset Alliance (ICROA) is a global non-profit industry association housed within the International Emissions Trading Association. Its members provide carbon reduction and offset services across the world to thousands of organizations.

The Imperial College London University is a research university located in London, United Kingdom, which houses The Centre for Environmental Policy (CEP).

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