Microsoft, Allianz and PUMA take alternative view of offsets

June 1st, 20134:33 am @


If human activities contribute to climate change, what can humans do to manage their impact on the environment?

That was the central agenda for the inaugural symposium on REDD+ and climate change held last month by Wildlife Works and CSRwire. The event focused on helping corporate executives understand the critical issue of deforestation and how their businesses will be affected — if they haven’t been already — if necessary steps aren’t taken to mitigate climate change.

One of the most popular attempts at mitigating climate change is to “offset” humans’ negative impact on the environment with positive impacts through the mechanism known as carbon credits. Carbon offsets have been controversial for a variety of reasons, including problems with quality and verification. But some companies, such as Microsoft, Allianz and Puma, have found value in using carbon credits more broadly to further their sustainability goals by managing risk, putting a price on carbon and enhancing reputations.

These companies are working with Wildlife Works to do this. The organization connects carbon offsets to community building, social enterprises, education, wildlife conservation and engaged employees, clients and partners. Wildlife Works protects 500,00 acres of highly threatened Kenyan forest, creating hundreds of Ranger jobs protecting the forest, planting trees and, with its partner Puma, creating social enterprise jobs and education.

It is disguised as a carbon offset seller, when in reality it is a social enterprise and brand value developer.  

Expanding the use of carbon offsets

In the case of Microsoft, management identified an internal carbon fee across all 14 divisions. Once a dollar value was placed on carbon emissions, managers were required to remit a fee to the “home office.”

This fee was then allocated to carbon offset projects, such as preserving forests, protecting wildlife, creating jobs and education. Once the numbers started to add up, the divisions’ finance chiefs began to get creative with their approach to carbon emissions. Essentially, the dollar value of carbon impact was merely a way to get these chiefs’ attention, according to TJ DiCaprio, Microsoft’s senior director for environmental sustainability.

Next page: Reinforcing reputation

Image courtesy of Wildlife Works.

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