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Carbon net zero: can you be more helpful than Bill Gates?

LCN Updates

20 September 2021

We're sure you agree that huge, eye-catching changes will only be part of the solution to the climate crisis. It is just as important that small businesses and individuals do what they can too. At LCN Legal – without looking for any praise in return – we want to do our bit.

But exactly what form should that take? This is not a rhetorical question – we really want to hear what you’ve discovered about this area. We’ll very quickly outline what we’ve done and learned so far.

Bill Gates is an excellent thinker whom we very much admire, so we read his book ‘How to Avoid a Climate Disaster’. It was excellent on the big-picture structural and policy changes required of governments, international bodies and huge global businesses. But had little practical advice for anyone with a sub-billion dollar budget.

We decided that a good first step towards achieving carbon net zero would be to achieve carbon neutrality. (In case you don't already know, 'Carbon neutral' means simply keeping your carbon emissions at the same level and using offsets to balance them out. 'Carbon net zero' means actively reducing your carbon emissions to the lowest possible amount, and then using offsetting to compensate for whatever remaining emissions you're unable to prevent.)

We went to the Carbon Trust, which is backed by the UK government. They told us to watch a webinar, which we did, but if we wanted further help we had to pay them an eye-watering sum in consultancy fees. (More than it would cost us to offset the firm’s entire carbon footprint for the rest of our working lives.)

And before we can offset our carbon footprint we have to measure it; the fact that we all work from home makes this particularly tricky. We decided to include all the carbon produced by everyone in our employees' households, and used the website carbonfootprint.com to make the calculation. The website produced a figure, and listed around five projects that we could donate to, each with different rankings and quality marks like ‘Gold Standard’ and ‘Carbon-verified’. The amount of money required to offset our carbon footprint varied from project to project – for example investing in the ‘Gold Standard’ project required greater investment to get the same benefit. There was no way for us to independently assess these projects, or to establish exactly how each would use the funds.

So: what are we missing? What best practices should we be following? What useful resources have we failed to find? In short, can you be more helpful than Bill Gates?

We’re sure many of you must have been asking similar questions, so let’s pool our knowledge. Please get in touch with us in any of the usual ways, and we’ll share your thoughts in a future blog.

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Article by
Paul O’Regan

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