Offsetting one tonne of CO2 brings an additional USD 664 in benefits to the communities where carbon reduction projects are based, according to new research.
Imperial College London, in partnership with the International Carbon Reduction and Offsetting Alliance (ICROA), has found that purchasing carbon credits creates economic development opportunities, aids environmental conservation and helps improve people’s lives by delivering household savings, health benefits and improving water resources, among other social benefits.
More than CO2 savings
The amount of carbon reduced by such projects has been “rigorously measured and independently verified” for many years, but to date there has not been academic research conducted to measure and value the impact of investing in carbon offset programs beyond reducing emissions.
The new research finds that each tonne of CO2 reduced has additional benefits – such as poverty alleviation, infrastructure development and nature conservation – worth USD 664.
The findings demonstrates that the voluntary carbon market delivers more than just CO2 savings. By investing in carbon offset programmes one also support employee engagement and resource efficiency savings, and make a positive contribution to local communities in addition to reducing emissions.
A great example is the Myanmar Stoves Campaign that brings monetary savings for households, protection of biodiversity, training and employment opportunities and health benefits from significantly reduced indoor air pollution.
Better identification and measurement of the extra social benefits of buying carbon credits could encourage more governments, companies and individuals to invest in projects that make a real difference to communities around the world, whilst reducing dangerous carbon emissions.
The study took a two-pronged approach.
Firstly, data was collected from 59 offset projects around the globe and all the social and economic benefits were quantified then monetized utilizing environmental economics methodologies. Imperial calculated the total value of aggregated benefit in order to determine the value per tonne of carbon dioxide for this sample. These initial results show promise for evaluating projects in a more holistic manner over time.
The second prong of the research investigated 72 of the larger companies participating in voluntary carbon offsetting programs. Surveys were undertaken to gather tangible business benefits that had come about by implementing an offset program. Further information including their willingness to pay for additional social and environmental benefits was also gathered.
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