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Reduce, reduce, reduce...then offset

Given that we're an offsetting firm, you might be forgiven for thinking we'd be in favour of offsetting as a primary component of an environmental strategy.  Well, we're not.

We all know we’re not going to get close to tackling climate change if all everyone does is offset (especially if the current shennanigans continue, but that’s a different story).  So the focus is, and always has to remain, on reducing, reducing, reducing.

To ensure that carbon offsetting helps rather than hinders your environmental programme, you need to be sure to have a carbon management strategy in place before offsetting.

There are lots of tools and companies out there who can help you devise a reduction strategy. One attractive option for companies spending between £30k and £3m on energy is a free Carbon Trust energy survey, which helps to identify when and where energy is being used, and prioritises recommendations for cutting usage.

Companies like the Utility Forum provide these free surveys and can also help communicate the results internally and facilitate access to interest free loans to support the implementation of recommendations.

So where does offsetting fit in? We think a good time to look at offsetting is when you have:

  1. Measured your emissions and set targets and plans to reduce them;
  2. Embarked on a path of reducing your emissions and want a simple way to communicate this to customers; or
  3. Implemented all of the measures that technology and budget allow.


Customers are increasingly demanding clarity about the environmental policies of organisations they deal with. One concept that organisations find easy to communicate is that of carbon neutrality. Whether it is a specific product or the whole organisation that has gone carbon neutral, customers understand that this represents a big commitment from the organisation and make purchasing decisions accordingly.

Communications must focus on how emissions were reduced as well as the carbon offsets purchased. This helps customers, staff and other stakeholders to see carbon reduction as a journey that they can play a part in rather than something that gets rid of the problem and makes further action unnecessary.

Taking responsibility for your carbon footprint through offsetting is the right thing to do – but only where those emissions are unavoidable. It should always be used alongside, not instead of reduction.

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What people say

  • "This might just be the world's first truly ethical offseting scheme."

    John Grant, Author of The Green Marketing Manifesto
  • "I have never been a fan of carbon offsetting but Carbon Retirement is different"

    Richard Ellis, Group Head of CSR Alliance Boots
  • "I have long thought European Allowances were the best alternative to offsets"

    Joseph Romm, Former environment advisor to Bill Clinton
  • "Carbon Retirement is an innovative idea that has clear differentiation in the market"

    Jo Hill, Unltd.
  • “We benefit from Carbon Retirement's innovative and responsible approach to carbon offsetting.”

    Adam Black, Head of Sustainability Doughty Hanson

Carbon neutral certified company