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How New Engagement Tools Are Making Carbon Offsets More Accessible for Business

L-R: Allie Goldstein, James Tansey, Sean Kinghorn, Gina Angiolillo | Image credit: Randy Tunnell/SB

Given the packed room for Wednesday afternoon’s panel discussing carbon offsetting, it’s evident that as organizations become increasingly aware of their environmental risks, carbon management has become a critical tool.

Presented by auditing and accounting firm, PwC, the panel provided a balanced perspective on the offsetting industry. Offsetters, Code REDD and Ecosystem Marketplace spoke on behalf of organizations that are in the field quantifying and developing programs to offset carbon emissions, while the companies that rely on their work for internal carbon management, were represented by apparel provider, Volcom, and technology solutions giant, Intuit.

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True to the theme of making carbon offsets more accessible, the five panelists discussed that one of the biggest shifts in carbon offsets is changing the way it is communicated. For example, the concept originally had some negative associations, as consumers often were made to feel guilty about their daily carbon consumption rather than the reverse - taking pride in positively impacting the environment.

Gina Angiolillo, Communications Director for Code REDD, stressed the significance of an authentic communication strategy to socialize important ideas such as decreasing greenhouse gas emissions through the reduction of deforestation. Code REDD believes in tackling carbon management from both top-down and bottom-up approaches, enlisting private sector executives, but also building community with all citizens. They have also elected to use celebrity endorsements, ensuring that their speakers were already passionate practitioners of their messages, including actor Edward Norton and rapper/activist Prince Ea.

In addition to positive communication campaigns, the panelists also discussed the emerging technologies available for consumers to participate in carbon offsetting including gamification, and the Nature Bank platform, which allows consumers to directly connect to carbon offset projects. For example, a sponsor can be specific about which part of a rainforest that they are conserving through this application, rather than committing to an intangible goal of deforestation.

Finally, Allie Goldstein, Senior Associate for Forest Carbon at Ecosystem Marketplace, also noted that current data indicates that companies who are offsetting, are also actively reducing their emissions. This disputes the negative assumption that offsetting simply gives companies the permission to pollute. 

Candice D McLeod is an Energy Associate in facilities management at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech), working on energy efficiency and whole systems sustainability, writing on the intersection of business & sustainability for Sustainable Brands. She received a Masters… [Read more about Candice McLeod]

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