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There’s no single solution to our climate crisis. I threw out carbon and hydrogen for discussion a couple of weeks ago, and I’m going to return to the former, now, but to a different piece of the jigsaw: carbon offsets. 

If you’re a member of the Climate + Energy community on neoHome, you’ll have an inkling of what’s to come: 

1. Carbon Offsets: the Good, the Bad and the Ugly

Ali A recently posed some questions/issues, including: “What is holding us back from having a robust, high-volume offset market?”; “How can we make developing projects less expensive but still have higher validation and certainty that the offsets are truly being created with permanence?”; And “What’s the real value of co-benefits?”

It’s an incredibly complicated area, but put basically – and I’ll quote The Carbon Offset Guide here: “A carbon offset broadly refers to a reduction in GHG emissions – or an increase in carbon storage (e.g., through land restoration or the planting of trees) – that is used to compensate for emissions that occur elsewhere. A carbon offset credit is a transferable instrument certified by governments or independent certification bodies to represent an emission reduction of one metric tonne of CO2, or an equivalent amount of other GHGs. The purchaser of an offset credit can ‘retire’ it to claim the underlying reduction towards their own GHG reduction goals.” 

Here are some themes from the discussion thread, which is way more detailed than I could cover here, so I would encourage others to join in (I’d love to convene a roundtable on this soon, so the more opinions, the better). 

… there are not the adequate domestic institutional arrangements for a fungible carbon value that would give you your "high-volume" offset market. The unattended governance challenges will stultify any progress in this area. I'll go one more and offer that meanwhile, the pernicious, overly aggressive private sector offset market actions, puts the cart before the horse and threatens to undermine any sort of potential market-mechanisms solutions. Scott M

… do we roll with "close enough" and recognize that these markets are imperfect, but better than not creating incentives to reduce/sequester carbon? Ali A

… the key opportunity must be finding significant positive spill-overs from offset schemes (Jobs! Biodiversity! Innovation! Wealth! Tax revenue!). Paul B

… Let's release the conversation from binary thinking! … "redefine the problem." Scott M 

… No question that there are deficiencies and risks that off-sets are bogus, meaningless or just wrong. However, I agree with Ali – we can do this in ways that keep the markets honest and accountable. Offsets are one of the many bridges we'll need for the next 30-50 years and there's no inherent reason that we cannot do this. Elliot H 

… it's an opportunity cost decision – if someone else can reduce/sequester carbon for less, but cannot finance the change, then an offset makes sense. Works better if the off-taker doesn't just pocket the difference between what it would have cost them to eliminate that tonne of CO2, but instead used a portion towards making the change to get the cost down to eliminate their own footprint. Ali A 

You may, of course, believe that offsets are merely about offsetting guilt rather than carbon. This piece from Greenpeace is definitely worth a read for a strong opposing argument: The Biggest Problem with Carbon Offsetting is That it Doesn’t Really Work.

2. Why Can’t Men Be More Like Women?

Please take some time to watch our Talking Heads interview Jane Sassienie, who is working with leaders across business, particularly with SDG5 in mind. Gender diversity and relentless inclusion are, she believes, essential for the corporate world to be on the right track. (It’s also good for business.) What are you doing to ensure that your own business or sector is as diverse as the community you serve?

Shashi Velath interviewed Jane Sassienie for Talking Heads

3. Achieving change

One of our members wrote to us last week about behaviour change. We’ll be posting more from him soon in the Behaviour Change community, but, in the meantime, here’s a teaser for you. David T wrote: A coach and mentor (from Japan), many years ago suggested I may find change easier to introduce if we focused on the overall system, environment, culture and climate and not the process or task and ...

… dismantle respectfully and re-assemble thoughtfully. 

Great mantra to act by. 

4. Our Top Tip

We have made some changes to our Behaviour Change community recently by adding a dedicated Resources section. We need to start filling it with relevant and shareable information, so if you have any reports or research that we could share with the rest of the community please email me with details (it can be just a link) and we can highlight it in the library of resources we are beginning to build. Thanks in advance!

Connect, Ignite Ideas, Get Stuff Done

Fiona (, Bas, Ross & Phil

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