Carbon offsetting and credits serve as tools which our sector employs to reduce its carbon footprint. However, do these measures genuinely promote eco-friendliness or are they merely a surface-level display of green initiatives?
Sustainability and environmental responsibility are the buzzwords in today’s events sector, with venues and other key industry players all keen to reduce their environmental footprint. Enter carbon offsetting and carbon credits, touted as powerful tools to help them go green. But the question lingers: are these measures truly promoting eco-friendliness or are they just a superficial display of green intentions?
Understanding carbon offset
In simple terms, carbon offsetting is when a business invests in projects to balance out its carbon emissions. These can stem from various sources such as energy use, transportation, and waste. Such projects can encompass energy-efficient upgrades, waste reduction, or support for local conservation efforts.
In return for their participation, businesses receive carbon credits, representing the emissions reduction achieved by the supported projects. Essentially, it’s a way to lessen impact on climate change while addressing environmental concerns.
The promise of carbon offset Carbon offsetting certainly holds great potential for significantly reducing the environmental impact of the hospitality sector as a whole. Supporting initiatives in renewable energy, waste reduction, and reforestation for example, demonstrates a commitment to sustainability while actively contributing to global climate change mitigation. Additionally, knowledge of a company’s participation in such schemes appeals to eco-conscious travellers seeking environmentally friendly accommodations and clients eager to make a positive contribution.
Too good to be true?
However, carbon offsetting isn’t without its challenges. Critics worry that it might allow some businesses to appear green while continuing with unsustainable practices. Greenpeace go so far as to describe it as: “The most popular and sophisticated form of greenwash around.”
Ensuring accurate accounting of emissions reductions is crucial to prevent any double-counting, where the same reduction is claimed multiple times, but as Rubies in the Rubble founder Jenny Costa wrote of carbon offsetting in The Grocer recently: “In practice, this unregulated market is hard to govern and there are many methodologies for how the offsets are calculated.”
Pedro Martins Barata, Associate Vice President for carbon markets at the Environmental Defence Fund (EDF) and Co-chair of the expert panel at the Integrity Council for the Voluntary Carbon Market (ICVCM) agreed: “You do have a system where it’s everyone for themselves, nobody checks the quality of offsets.” However, he emphasised that change was possible, stating: “I’m worried about credit quality very much – and ICVCM has been set up to change significantly the landscape of carbon credits.”
That’s not to say that all carbon credit schemes are a product of greenwashing, especially when paired with other sustainability initiatives within your business. Stephen Parkinson, Green Team Leader and HOSPA Sustainability Champion Award Winner at The Last Drop Hotel, told us why the hotel was in the process of setting up a contract with carbon offsetting business More Trees: “We looked at a lot of options, which were more intense and in-depth. You could take it as far as you want but there are a lot of costs and responsibilities involved. Currently with where we are with the business and our responsibilities, we do quite a lot to manage our carbon footprint, and looking at the offsetting, this is quite a good, easily accessible route that can be applied.”
The path to true sustainability
In summary, carbon offsetting and credits have a role to play in making the events industry greener, yet their success hinges on transparency, authenticity, and a long-term commitment to environmental responsibility.
Businesses need to view carbon offsetting as part of a broader sustainability strategy which includes reducing emissions at the source.
Whether carbon offsetting genuinely benefits the environment or is merely a green facade depends on the individual company’s intentions and actions. When done correctly, it can enhance their green credentials. Nevertheless, it should not be a substitute for genuine sustainability efforts. Ultimately, the industry’s future depends on embracing carbon offsetting as a complement, not a gimmick, for a truly eco-friendly sector.
The key lies in achieving a balance between effective carbon offsetting and authentic, on-the-ground sustainability practices, ensuring that going green is more than just a trend, but a lasting commitment to a greener tomorrow.