Why should businesses measure the carbon footprint of their business operations?

Anthropogenic climate change is caused by man-made greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. These GHG’s accumulate in the earth’s atmosphere trapping solar radiation. This causes increases in atmospheric temperatures leading to significant global climatic change. One important and effective way of reducing the rate of climatic change is through the reduction of CO2 emitted by humans.

Whether it’s through various media platforms, or by experiencing the climatic changes first hand, we are witnessing the impacts of human induced climate change everyday. Whilst it is necessary to be aware of the challenges that humans, animals and the environment face, it is important to focus on the solutions available and the positive impact that we can have individually and collectively.

For a business to reduce CO2 emissions effectively, it is important to understand the carbon footprint of their business operations on an annual basis. Measuring an organisation’s carbon footprint baseline enables the creation of a focused reduction plan which ekos can assist with. We provide carbon footprint measurement services and emissions reporting. This report breaks down the carbon emissions by activity and highlights emission hotspots within the business’s operations. ekos then provides recommendations on emissions reduction interventions allowing businesses to set informed reduction goals and next steps in their Zero Carbon journey.

If you are interested in measuring the carbon footprint of your business’s operations, please download our business calculator through the following link https://ekos.org.nz/business-calculator . If necessary, we can then organise a time to talk on the phone regarding the ins and outs of this calculation and the data needed.

What happens when I offset with Ekos?

Voluntary carbon offsetting involves taking responsibility for your carbon emissions (pollution). We do this by measuring the amount of carbon emissions you produce from things like flying and driving (burning fossil fuels), and then compensate for these emissions by causing an equal volume of carbon to be taken out of the air. This is done by establishing new forests and protecting old ones. This is because forests take carbon out of the air through photosynthesis – a process of capturing and storing the sun’s energy in the form of sugar and wood.

One carbon credit represents one tonne of carbon dioxide that has been taken out of the atmosphere by a forest. If your carbon emissions are equal to ten tonnes of carbon dioxide, we can offset this (compensating for our emissions) by purchasing ten carbon credits. These carbon credits are then cancelled in a carbon registry so that they cannot be used by anyone else.

Where does my money go when I buy carbon credits from Ekos?

ekos carbon credits are priced to cover the costs of producing them and retailing them. At the forefront of this is paying the forest owner, who has given up the right to either agricultural revenue (by reforesting), or timber revenue (by protecting their forests). Other costs include conservation management, such as pest and weed control, but also establishing the forest in the first place (for reforestation projects). In addition, we provide a retail platform consistent with international carbon standards that enables buyers and sellers to engage in a transaction. These annual costs are met by revenues from carbon credit sales.

How many trees are planted as a result of my purchase?

It costs approximately NZ$15 per tree to establish one of these forests (land preparation, purchase the seedling, plant the seedling, register the project, control pests and weeds, consents and planning). But purchases of carbon credits also go towards the ongoing costs, such as conservation management and revenue for land owners listed above.

 

How are carbon credits made?

Carbon credits are made by planting new forests or protecting old forests.

The number of trees planted for each carbon credit will vary depending on the project, but our projects will typically involve planting 800 - 1,000 trees per hectare for a certified carbon project.

In the case of new forests, the amount of carbon a tree captures from the atmosphere changes as the tree grows, as seen in the diagrams to the right.


How carbon credits are made.jpg

Is it true the the benefit from forest carbon projects last only as long as the life of the tree?

No. Carbon sequestration (absorption) turns carbon dioxide gas into a solid and stores it in the landscape as wood. This lasts for the life of the forest - not the tree. A forest is a population of trees that can live as a forest system for many thousands of years - the forests in our national parks have existed for around 10,000 years (some lowland forests have been standing for much longer).

Why are some cheap carbon credits available on the international carbon market?

The average wholesale carbon price in the international forest carbon market is around US$6/tCO2e (around NZ$9). This average takes into account very large scale industrial carbon projects that can produce carbon credits at very low prices. The average wholesale carbon price for Aotearoa-New Zealand carbon credits is currently around NZ$25. ekos’s carbon credits come from our Aotearoa-New Zealand and Pacific Island projects. These are not large scale industrial carbon projects, but are fair trade-styled community-based projects designed to deliver sustainable land management, biodiversity and community outcomes. For these reasons, we need to charge a carbon price that can sustain these projects.

How do forests benefit the ecosystem beyond capturing carbon?

Forests provide many benefits to people and nature. Some of these benefits include erosion control, flood protection, and stream protection. Because forests cool the land surface and reduce wind speeds they also help to increase soil moisture and water storage in soils. This helps to feed water to streams in dry seasons. By shading streams, forests also help to lower stream temperatures, and this is good for stream biodiversity, including fish. Forests also contain biodiversity, as well as storing carbon.

What are indigenous forests and why are they better?

Indigenous trees are those that are native not just to a country, but a particular area. Indigenous forests provide all the benefits listed above, but have the added value of providing even greater soil moisture, biodiversity, flood protection and stream protection than exotic monocultures. All of these benefits are enhanced when a forest is allowed to grow old, rather than being harvested. This is why ekos focuses on establishing and protecting permanent indigenous forests that can thrive for 1000’s of years.

Can I offset my carbon use based on an estimate? If so, what carbon status will I be granted?

This involves a customer purchasing carbon credits when there has either been no specific measurement or where we have not been able to verify this measurement. If you wish to purchase $X worth of carbon credits, we would provide you with a Carbon Friendly certificate. This way we would not review your carbon footprint measurement. 

Are you not just providing businesses with licenses to pollute?

No. Individuals and businesses already have those licenses because it is not illegal to use electricity, drive, fly, refrigerate, freight goods, or discard waste. Also, as animals and not plants, humans are net emitters of carbon dioxide by default. Our customers are individuals and businesses who have come to the conclusion that we all need to tackle climate change together and want to play their part. They have then taken the voluntary action to measure and reduce their carbon footprint. They have then taken responsibility for those emissions that they could not reduce to zero by offsetting those emissions. This offsetting is not compulsory, and yet funds reforestation and forest protection projects that sequester and store carbon in living carbon reservoirs (forests).

Are you not just commodifying and exploiting nature by trading in forest protection and reducing nature to a commercial price?

No. Firstly, nature has been commodified long ago in the form of wood, and the clearing of forests for agricultural purposes. We are simply pricing the human labour and technology cost to care for and even restore nature. We are not exploiting nature by working to protect it any more than a doctor is exploiting a patient by combating disease or injury. We are just using a market instrument to raise money from the private sector to look after nature and the climate system. There is not enough grant money available to solve these problems and this is why it is useful to tap into private funds to do this work.

CAN I OFFSET MY EMISSIONS WITH THE TREE PLANTING I HAVE DONE ON MY PROPERTY?

If you want to offset your carbon footprint through planting or natural regeneration that has occurred on your land, the carbon sequestration of this area needs to be measured by the hectare, reported, verified by international carbon standards or the New Zealand Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) and registered under the ETS registry or an alternative registry in the International Voluntary Carbon Market.

This measurement, reporting, verification and registration provides legal safeguards to look after the forest and gives the landowner a liability should deforestation occur. It also ensures that the carbon credits produced are not being ‘double counted’. Any reforested areas that are not verified and registered are included in the government’s 5 yearly reforestation aerial survey. The carbon sequestration of any unregistered reforestation is used by the government to meet their international carbon offsetting requirements. Double accounting is not permitted in voluntary offset standards.

If you think you have an area of passive natural regeneration or forested land that you think is worth registering please read the FAQ below.

CAN THE forest/ REGENERATION ON MY PROPERTY BE REGISTERED TO THE EMISSIONS TRADING SCHEME?

ekos may be able to help. It depends on whether the land is eligible for registering in the New Zealand Emissions Trading Scheme (NZETS). The key eligibility criteria is whether the land can be demonstrated to be ‘non-forest land’ as of 31 December 1989. This means that all reforestation needs to have happened after this date.

If you think that the land is potentially eligible, we could do an eligibility assessment using aerial imagery and then look at carbon project development if it passes this eligibility test.

If it is not eligible for registering in the NZETS then we will not be able to help.

If the project passes this test then there is potential to register the project in the NZETS. This will require it to meet the following conditions:

  • At least 1ha in area for each polygon of project area.

  • Be at least 30m wide on average for each hectare.

  • Have at least 30% canopy coverage per hectare of trees capable of growing to at least 5m in height at that location.

If you want to explore this option further or want some idea of the potential costs, please get in touch with us through the following link https://ekos.org.nz/for-land-owners .