Nearly half of businesses do not trust offsets

Nearly half (41 per cent) of chief sustainability officers (CSOs) do not use carbon offsets due to trust issues, with an additional 43 per cent seeking assurance from rating agencies for validation.

 The majority of businesses will struggle to meet net-zero goals without the use of carbon credits, but a lack of trust in the tool is stalling uptake and pushing corporate net-zero plans off track. This is one of the striking findings from a global survey of over 500 senior sustainability officers, commissioned by AiDash.

The Carbon Offsetting in 2023 study shows sustainability and carbon management are now mainstream concerns, with 97 per cent of businesses including them in investment decisions, 79 per cent of CSOs already accountable to their boards or the public, 98 per cent doing more than legally required to reduce emissions and 56 per cent of businesses committed to net-zero targets on or before 2030.

However, over half of businesses (56 per cent) do not have operational control over the majority of their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and nearly half (43 per cent) use carbon offsets for hard-to-reduce GHG emissions alongside direct measures. As a result, many businesses cannot meet net-zero targets without the use of carbon credits.

Despite this critical need, the survey revealed a major lack of trust in carbon offsetting, with 41 per cent of CSOs stating they do not use carbon credits as they do not adequately trust them. This comes at a time when many carbon offsetting projects are being shown to be inconsistently measured, inadequately monitored, and frequently failing to prove they are based on additional carbon captured.

Another revelation is the inconsistency in validation methods for carbon credits; 4 per cent do not validate credits at all, 35 per cent only buy from government or voluntary certified schemes, 43 per cent are exploring working with credit rating agencies, 35 per cent undertake their own validation or third-party due diligence and 41 per cent use a combination of these methods. This lack of uniformity raises doubts surrounding the accuracy and comparability of corporate sustainability measurements.

Carbon offsetting was not the only hot topic of the survey. It also revealed that CSOs are turning their eyes towards biodiversity. While only 24 per cent currently include biodiversity impact in their sustainability strategies, 66 per cent already have a role dedicated to biodiversity, with a substantial proportion intending to introduce one in the next two years. However, as it stands, legacy approaches to measuring biodiversity could hamper progress.

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