March 28, 2023
Blog/ Offsetting carbon v using cargo bikes
The Truth about Offsetting: Why it’s Not Enough for Saving the Environment
‘One tree planted for every order’… ‘Now offering carbon neutral flights’… ‘We’re offsetting our delivery emissions’… this kind of sentiment is everywhere in 2023.
When it comes to saving the environment, does offsetting really work?
The short answer is… well, no.
The slightly longer answer is:
Whilst it can be a useful tool for carbon reduction, it shouldn’t be used as a first port of call (i.e. planting a tree is a great thing to do, but the carbon and air pollution from a diesel van delivery has already caused damage to the climate and people’s health by the time the shovel hits the ground).
Secondly, the price per assumed tonne of carbon emissions is way too low. Companies can simply use cheap offsets to continue their business as usual, without making any meaningful impact.
No to Offsetting & Carbon Neutral Options, Yes to Ultra Low Carbon Options
It’s a numbers game. There aren’t enough offsets to negate the current scale of emissions. The books simply can’t be balanced!
This is all aside from the effect of NOX and particulates on human health and the urban environment. Offsetting may avoid emissions or remove carbon out of the atmosphere somewhere, but their reliability, credibility and efficiency are disputed.
So, if that’s the case – what’s the solution? If businesses want to see and contribute to real change, it’s important to say no to offsetting and ‘carbon neutral’ options, and yes to implementing ultra low carbon solutions at the outset.
The visual below is an example of how it works when comparing a diesel van to a cargo bike. Both readily available options for deliveries and services across urban areas, but… one requires extra work to ‘undo’ the damage, and one is inherently carbon free at the point of service. One is harmful to human health whilst one is great for human physical health and can have a positive impact on mental health too (think fewer traffic jams, more bike lanes and green spaces).
So, when given the choice – which would you choose for your deliveries?