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Additionality for carbon offsets, explained

You’ve probably heard companies make plenty of “green” pledges – how big box stores may use renewable energy to power their facilities, how a car manufacturer may reduce waste in their supply chain, how the shampoo bottle you use is made from 60% recycled plastic. There are plenty of companies out there that are committed to reducing their impact on our planet and fight climate change.  But it is always important to know exactly *what* they are doing and *how* they are achieving these goals.

Beware of Greenwashing

That’s why it’s important to learn more about the terms companies use and whether or not they are grounded in fact or fiction. Here at Clearloop, we’ve already touched on all the ways a company can measure and reduce their corporate carbon footprint directly. The reality is that most company’s products and services have a lingering impact on our emissions that can’t be reduced further. That’s where carbon offsets come in.

Carbon Offsets 

Offsetting one’s carbon footprint means to compensate for one’s emissions by funding a carbon-saving method somewhere else. Essentially, a company can measure the carbon impact of their product or service and then purchase a carbon offset that will take a positive community action to counteract – or offset – their emissions. 

Plenty of companies fulfill this through funding community projects like tree planting or methane capture at landfills. But in order for a carbon offset to truly work, you have to ask a simple question: is this project additional?

Additionality, Explained 

According to the folks at South Pole, “additionality means that the reductions in emissions achieved by the project must be “above business as usual” – they would not have happened unless the project was implemented.” If the community project or positive event would have happened without the direct funding of the carbon offset, it doesn’t pass the additionality smell test. 

Recently, carbon offsets in the form of forest restoration and other tree planting efforts have come under scrutiny because the projects financed by offset money either failed to come to fruition, or were difficult to measure. Other carbon offsets, in the form of renewable energy credits (RECs), fail to meet the additionality standard because they often only represent a purchase of existing clean energy facilities, rather than financing new renewable energy projects. 

Clearloop and Additionality

Here at Clearloop, we believe in the power of the sun to reduce our carbon emissions – specifically, accelerating access to clean energy across the United States to get rid of dirty fossil fuels like coal and natural gas from our energy consumption. There are plenty of renewable energy projects getting built in communities with favorable regulatory markets or climate-minded leaders. Yet, there are even more communities that are getting left behind in the clean energy revolution, missing out on the environmental, economic, and health benefits that follow clean energy infrastructure. We need all hands on deck to help us accelerate the clean up of the grid and expand investments to all corners of our country. Communities in the middle part of the country like West Virginia, the Tennessee Valley, and other ‘fly over” states deserve just as much access and investment as others who’ve already started seeing the promise of renewable energy infrastructure investments. 

At Clearloop, we have a simple mission: to harness the power of the private sector to expand access to clean energy in communities getting left behind. We offer a way for companies of all sizes to measure their carbon footprint and invest in building new renewable energy capacity in communities that otherwise would not see that investment. 

Take our project in our home state of Tennessee: we’re building a 1 megawatt facility that will generate enough power to provide clean energy to 200 homes, thanks to companies like Coolperx, with room for other like-minded brands to join them. Companies that invest in this project will not just get to claim that they’ve offset their emissions, but it is directly causing a brand new solar project to be built and generate clean electricity for the local community to enjoy for at least the next 40 years. 

Let’s get started


Want to learn more about how to reclaim your carbon footprint and expand access to clean energy with Clearloop? Drop us a note at hello@clearloop.us or contact us here.

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