Carbon offsetting is a popular way to reduce your travel-related footprint. But does it actually help the environment?
Sustainable business travel is growing in importance throughout the industry. One of the most common ways to pursue sustainability in travel is through carbon offsetting. Still, many don’t understand what it is — and others are skeptical about how much of an impact it can make in the long-term.
Here are more details to help you better understand what carbon offsetting is and just how impactful it can be for the environment.
What is Carbon Offsetting?
All travel creates carbon emissions. Carbon offsetting is when an individual or organization chooses to make a payment to help offset the emissions they have created.
In carbon offsetting, you buy a carbon credit that is then invested in some project that is designed to limit emissions. There are typically two different kinds of carbon-offset projects:
- Reduction projects: Some projects funded by carbon credits are designed to reduce future emissions through renewable energy.
- Capture projects: Other projects funded by carbon credits are designed to capture carbon that already exists in the atmosphere — and then store it.
Together, these two types of projects are meant to create a more sustainable business travel industry. But there are some who would criticize this approach to offsetting.
Criticisms of Carbon Offsetting
There are three primary criticisms of carbon offsetting. First and foremost, critics say that it gives individuals and organizations a license to pollute. In short, they are doing things that are bad for our environment, and it gives them permission to keep doing those things.
Second, some suggest that carbon offsets do little to actually improve the environment. The definition of sustainability is pursuing activities in such a way that future generations will also be able to pursue them. Critics say that carbon offsetting is not creating a sustainable business travel industry or future.
Finally, some criticize carbon offsetting’s reactive nature. Rather than proactively reducing emissions, it is an after-the-fact approach that tries to make up for the damage already done.
Carbon Offsetting as a Catalyst
There’s balance in the carbon offsetting conversation, though. Where some criticize the approach, others praise it as an essential piece of a larger plan for sustainability.
Proponents of offsetting say that it can be effective in reducing emissions long-term. And, perhaps more importantly, it makes individuals and organizations more highly aware of their impact on the environment. This awareness can serve as a catalyst for action in pursuit of sustainability in other aspects of an individual’s life or an organization’s operations.
And then there’s this: Some action is better than nothing. If the alternative to carbon offsetting is to do nothing at all, then it is clearly the better option for everyone involved in business travel.
Get Support for Your Sustainability Objectives
If you’re interested in a sustainable business travel industry, you can start buying carbon credits through platforms like TerraPass. You can also choose to work with a travel management company (TMC) that can help you achieve your sustainability-related objectives.
At JTB Business Travel, we work with organizations large and small to help them maximize their spend on business travel. We can also help you achieve your travel-related goals, like reducing your carbon footprint.
Contact us to learn more about boosting your travel ROI while reducing your footprint.