The majority of businesses will struggle to meet net-zero goals without the use of carbon credits, but a lack of trust in the tool is stalling uptake and pushing corporate net-zero plans off track. This is one of the striking findings from a global survey of over 500 senior sustainability officers, commissioned by AiDash, a leading provider of vegetation management and other satellite- and AI-powered operations, maintenance, and sustainability solutions.
What were the major findings of the global survey?
The ‘Carbon Offsetting in 2023’ study shows sustainability and carbon management are now mainstream concerns, with 97% of businesses including them in investment decisions, 79% of CSO’s already accountable to their boards or the public, 98% doing more than legally required to reduce emissions and 56% of businesses committed to net-zero targets on or before 2030.
However, about over half of businesses surveyed (56%) do not have operational control over the majority of their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and nearly half of them (43%) use carbon offsets for hard-to-reduce GHG emissions alongside the direct measures available. As a result, many of the businesses cannot meet net-zero targets without the use of carbon credits.
Despite critical need, the survey revealed major lack of trust in carbon offsetting, with 41% of CSOs stating they don’t use carbon credits as they don’t trust them. This comes at a time when many carbon offsetting projects are being shown to be inconsistently measured, inadequately monitored, and frequently failing to prove they are based on additional carbon captured.
Another revelation from the study is the inconsistency in validation methods for carbon credits. 4% do not validate credits at all, 35% only buy from government or available voluntary certified schemes, 43% are exploring working with credit rating agencies, 35% undertake their own validation or third-party due diligence and 41% use a combination of these methods.
This lack of uniformity raises doubts surrounding the accuracy and comparability of corporate sustainability measurements. With 89% of CSOs confirming that they use KPI metrics to track the progress of their sustainability plans, it is essential that those metrics are watertight.
What were the challenges to meeting net-zero goals?
As was discovered, the three biggest challenges to meeting net-zero goals are all data related:
- Collating reference data such as regional electricity and airline emissions factors (26%)
- Lack of common reporting frameworks (19%)
- Difficulty collating internal information (18%)
“Rather than waiting for governments to agree to regional or global frameworks, businesses are forging forward independently, making ambitious environmental commitments,” says Abhishek Vinod Singh, CEO, AiDash. “The intent and action is there but what these businesses desperately need is an organizational tool they can trust to accurately measure, monitor, track and validate the progress of their sustainability plans on their journey to net-zero.”
Carbon offsetting was not the only hot topic of the survey. It also revealed that CSOs are generally turning their eyes towards biodiversity. While only 24% currently include biodiversity impact in their sustainability strategies, 66% already have a role dedicated to biodiversity, with a substantial proportion intending to introduce one in the next two years. However, as it stands, legacy approaches to measuring biodiversity could consequently hamper progress.
“Advances in satellite and AI technology can solve the vast majority of issues businesses are experiencing, collecting, analyzing and verifying their sustainability data,” continues Singh.
“Our carbon solution not only provides measurements that meet carbon credit standards, but also continuous evidence to prove that credits are based on additional carbon captured and that carbon remains permanently in the ground, which is crucial for credible ESG reporting. By supporting how businesses apply carbon offsetting to their own land, we can save them up to 90% when compared with buying the equivalent from an escalating carbon credit market.”
“For biodiversity, our solution measures a host of complex environmental assets, allowing businesses to enhance natural capital metrics like pollination, recreational benefits, and value of food production. By analyzing 1,000s of sites and utilizing one ecologist to verify the data captured, the AiDash solution can reduce biodiversity management operational expenditure by up to 75%, helping businesses adhere to impending legislation in the US, Europe, and UK.”