In this blog I take a critical look at CO2-compensation and discuss the dangers and benefits, in order to get a clear insight. First I zero in on sustainability, what exactly does it mean and what is the importance of this? Then I will spend some time explaining greenwashing. What is greenwashing and how do companies use it nowadays? Have fun reading!
– Joost Commissaris –
WHAT IS SUSTAINABILITY?
The definition of sustainability is not entirely unambiguous. The definition that was most comprehensive for me is that of the CBS: “sustainable developments are developments that meet the necessities of life of the present generation without compromising those of future generations”. These are economic, social and environmental needs, including: a clean environment, biodiversity and a highly educated and healthy population.
THE IMPORTANCE OF SUSTAINABILITY?
What is the importance of sustainability? What aspect of sustainability has the highest priority? As a derivation of the definition in the paragraph above; we must ensure that the generations that follow us can also use the same necessities of life as we do now. This is indeed broad, which is why we limit ourselves to the climate in this blog.
RULES ON CLIMATE POLICY
To prevent further climate change, greenhouse gas emissions must be reduced. This so-called climate transition can actually only take place if countries work together. That is why the UN started the climate agreement of Paris in 2016. In 2020 there was an agreement between the 28 EU member states with the main goal being to keep global warming within 1.5 degrees of increase. The first agreement is to reduce emissions by 40% by 2030. The ultimate goal is to reduce CO2 emissions by 95% in 2050 compared to 1990.
In order to achieve these targets, a climate plan has been drawn up by each of the member states. These climate plans are valid until 2030, will be updated every 5 years and replaced every 10 years by a new plan.
WHAT IS GREENWASHING?
Greenwashing is a collection of tricks through which companies use something ‘good’ for the environment as a marketing trick. So it comes down to companies that pretend to be more sustainable than they really are. Think, for example, of the term ‘Natural’. This term can already be used if 1% of the product consists of natural ingredients. Or the example of ‘green electricity’ which is widely advertised, but whose electricity is actually green?
DIFFERENT WAYS OF GREENWASHING?
There are a lot of doubts regarding greenwashing, but there are tricks that are often pulled off by companies, below are listed three of the most common ones:
- The diversion technique: A lot of attention is drawn to a certain aspect of the product as sustainable, while the supply chain of the product is anything but sustainable.
- Vagueness: Sustainability is often handled very vaguely. Often terms such as ‘planet-friendly’ and ‘fair’ are used. As a consumer you can’t really make any sense of this.
- Lack of evidence: If a company claims to be very sustainable, but there is really nothing to be found about in what way and where.
HOW CAN IT BE RECOGNIZED?
Greenwashing is and remains difficult to recognize, but still there are a number of things you can look for. For example: it is good to be critical about quality marks, there are many marks that really say nothing. On the Milieu Centraal hallmark guide you will find the hallmarks that actually mean something. Also think realistically about the price of products. If a sustainable product is very cheap, it may be that the product is sustainable. However, there is a big chance that the production process of the product does not look sustainable at all. If you don’t pay the price for the product then someone will pay the price in the supply chain. Furthermore, it is important to rely on your own feelings. If you don’t trust something, research it. If you are still hesitant after your research, don’t buy the product!
WHAT IS CO2-COMPENSATION?
In essence, CO2 compensating is making sure that the CO2 you emit is returned at a different place in the world. This usually happens in two ways:
Let nature absorb CO2. This is a simple concept where, for example, you pay money for the planting/keeping of a forest. The trees then absorb CO2, which in turn reduces the CO2 content in the air.
Another way is to contribute to climate projects. In these climate projects, for example, better wood-fired ovens or windmills are used, where a lot of coal and wood is still used at the moment. This way, a reduction in CO2 emissions and a better living environment is achieved.
SO THROUGH CO2-COMPENSATION WE CAN CONTINUE?
Unfortunately, this is not the reality. If I get on the plane tomorrow and buy trees from the airline to compensate my CO2, emissions will occur immediately and the compensation will only take place many years later. In addition, this way the CO2 level will only be maintained and not reduced.
OKAY, SO CO2-COMPENSATION DOESN’T MAKE SENSE?
This, too, is a bit short. The most important tool for climate change is behavioral change. We need to fly less, travel, eat meat and buy stuff. But we can’t all do nothing and go nowhere. It’s certainly not a bad option to compensate for the emissions released in this way.
THE FUTURE AND COREKEES
WHAT SHOULD WE DO IN THE FUTURE?
Real climate change can only happen if we change our behavior. We have to be more efficient with the available resources. Fly less, eat and consume less meat than we currently do. That is the only way to have a positive long-term impact on the environment.
OKAY AND THE CO2-COMPENSATION OF COREKEES THEN?
As told before, it is not realistic we stop buying new stuff and travelling. For these emissions, CO2 offsetting would be a useful tool to become climate-neutral. The Pongamia tree of Corekees absorbs on average more CO2 than a normal tree. A normal tree absorbs an average of 25kg of CO2 per year, the Pongamia tree absorbs an average of 44 kg. Furthermore, we believe that real impact can only be made if consumers are still rewarded for their reduction. At Corekees, this is done by paying back the biofuel yield of the tree to the tree planter.