So you think you are off setting your CO2?

OK just when you thought you’d done the right think by a) reducing your salon’s energy consumption and hence its carbon emissions to the minimum possible and then b) off setting those pesky emissions so as to be “Carbon Neutral” or even Carbon Positive or Carbon Negative (these seem to mean the same!) by buying more carbon credits than you need to, along comes some very bad news!

The Advertising Standards Authority is to ban the use of terms such as “carbon neutral”, “net zero” and “nature positive” where these are based on the purchase of carbon offsets. But why?

Well, it appears that some carbon off setting schemes are little more than hot air!

The ASA has been investigating misleading environmental claims for 6 months and it has decided to crackdown on misleading environmental claims.

This was reported by The Guardian on 15th May 2023 citing the example of Gucci and other users of rainforest off sets marketed by Verra which were found to have had little impact in practice on the ground. Under the new ASA regime any claim based on the purchase of offsets will have to be able to demonstrate that the offsets really work.

Gucci, Italy’s most valuable luxury brand, announced it had become “entirely carbon neutral” in 2019 in part using Verra’s rainforest offsets. It has deleted the claim from its website and said it was no longer working with South Pole, the Swiss carbon credit consultancy it partnered with on the commitment.

Verra, which operates one of the world’s leading carbon standards, and has had the major oil companies as purchaser’s of its carbon credits has strongly disputed the findings of The Guardian investigation which was first published in January.

Large companies can ill afford the brand equity damage that public climbdowns like this bring with them and as the image below shows there is now an increasing tendency to take highly visible action against what are felt to be misleading claims.

Amid concerns about credibility, companies are increasingly being encouraged to say they are making climate contributions when purchasing carbon credits instead of claiming they have offset their emissions.

Whether we call them “contributions” or “off sets” it is still the case that purchasing kosher carbon credits will be a necessary part of achieving net zero for most if not all salons and other businesses between now and 2030. So what to do?

We think the solution is simply to be very careful in your choice of carbon emissions broker. Some worthy examples appear to be those accredited by one of the other major carbon standards, The Gold Standard . It’s not always easy to identify which certification any particular broker is using but, as far as we know, (but do your own research), the following seem to be good guys: Carbon Footprint Limited, Climate Impact Partners and Ethiotrees. Some display the logos of both Verra and Gold Standard amongst others and there are a lot of cowboys out there, so be careful!

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