Front Row’s Carbon Offset Commitment
“Canada declares national #ClimateEmergency. It’s great that more countries and regions are doing this. But remember: The fossil fuels must stay in the ground. Forget “climate neutral” and clever accounting. Our emissions must start their way to zero. Now.”
– Greta Thunberg, teenage environmental activist | Twitter post (06.18.2019)
In this post, we’ll explain: the cost of a flight offset, corporate social responsibility (CSR) and carbon offsets, review some of the history of carbon offsetting, look at some examples of companies doing an effective job with CSR and conclude with a listing of some carbon offset vendors to consider.
What Does It Cost to Offset a Flight?
Front Row offsets all carbon emissions created as a result of flights taken for our business. The total emissions created for a flight from Vancouver to Toronto in economy is 1.294 tonnes. The cost for a gold offset is $32 per tonne, resulting in a reasonable cost of $41.42 each way.
The cost to offset your flight can be calculated in less than 30 seconds by using this link to Less Emissions.
Corporate Social Responsibility & Carbon Offsets
Corporate social responsibility (CSR): a type of international private business self-regulation. A company's sense of responsibility toward the community and environment (both ecological and social) in which it operates.
Carbon offset: an action intended to compensate for the emission of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere as a result of industrial or other human activity, especially when quantified and traded as part of a commercial program.
Front Row Insurance is an organization that takes CSR seriously. We demonstrate our commitment to CSR primarily through the implementation of a carbon offsets program: all flying that is done by Front Row has a carbon offset through Less Emissions Inc. Through Less, customers can calculate and purchase offsets to help mitigate the greenhouse gas emissions associated with air travel.
The History of Carbon Offsets
The carbon offsets idea likely originated with the Kyoto Protocol, signed in 1997 by many countries (and which Canada withdrew from in December 2012). The Kyoto Protocol has sanctioned offsets as a way for governments and private companies to earn “carbon credits” that can be traded on a marketplace.
In June 2019, The House of Commons passed a motion to declare a national climate emergency in Canada. A report from Environment and Climate Change Canada released in April found that Canada is warming up at twice the rate of the rest of the world; this situation requires that Canada commit to meeting its national emission target under the Paris Agreement.
Although Canada officially withdrew from Kyoto, there are many grassroots initiatives across the country focused on promoting the reduction of emissions, such as Montreal’s climate march on Sept. 27 2019, which has invited Greta Thunberg (the 16-year-old Swedish environmental activist) to participate. This event is part of Global Climate Week from Sept. 20-27.
Examples of Effective Corporate Social Responsibility
Well-known companies that seem to be doing a good job of CSR include:
- Swiss Re: this reinsurance company charges its business divisions a fee based on their emissions, incentivizing them to reduce their carbon footprint while also raising funds that can then be reinvested in energy efficiency/used to purchase offsets.
- Vancity: Vancouver City Savings Credit Union has increased its holdings of clean tech and renewable energy companies. The company has been integrating environmental, social and governance factors into its investment decisions.
- Johnson & Johnson: this medical device company’s initiatives range from leveraging the power of wind to providing safe water to communities around the world.
- Coca-Cola: they have invested in new alternatively fueled trucks and are intending to create a 25% reduction in their carbon footprint by 2020.
- The Lego Group: in 2015, they announced plans to invest $150 million as part of an effort to make their iconic plastic building blocks better for the environment and make their packaging more sustainable (like cutting the size of packages).
Benefits of Carbon Offsets Program
There are benefits to both the general public and to companies when it comes to carbon offsets.
General public benefits:
- Reduced pollution (in the future): the funds companies invest in offsetting normally go toward green technology projects that should, when completed, reduce the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, which obviously benefits the public at large.
- Reputational benefits: people generally like having the reputation of being environmentally conscious and aware. People who buy offsets for their cars often receive a window decal to make others aware of their carbon neutrality, for example.
- Good PR & branding: offsetting carbon emissions engenders a certain amount of goodwill, both of the general public and certain investors; companies often like to take advantage of this opportunity to advertise their eco-friendliness in the marketplace.
- Anticipation of regulation: companies can get “ahead of the curve” by proactively taking some measures to offset their carbon emissions and when government regulation inevitably comes, they will have something already to show regulators.
- Tax deduction potential: if purchasing carbon offsets from a non-profit, under certain circumstances, the purchase could be considered a charitable donation and therefore tax deductible (depends on the carbon offset vendor).
How to Implement a Carbon Offsets Program
There are various carbon offsetting vendors that can be considered, including:
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