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Is ‘Double Carbon Neutral’ On The Horizon?

David Douglas, vice president for eco-responsibility at Sun Microsystems, raised an interesting question in his blog yesterday. Sun, which released its latest CSR report earlier this month, is pretty open with the fact that it’s not ready to go carbon neutral because the company is currently focused on lowering its carbon footprint by investing in projects that have a clear ROI, rather than investing in offsets.

“There is a cost to this strategy, and that cost is that we can’t claim that we’re carbon neutral,” Douglas writes. “Right now that’s a cost we’re willing to live with.”

Then Douglas asks if a company can be double carbon neutral? “If it is good to offset your emissions, is it even better to offset your emissions twice?” Douglas asks.

It’s an interesting question. As company’s continue to raise the green PR stakes, we could see moves like this down the road.

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5 thoughts on “Is ‘Double Carbon Neutral’ On The Horizon?

  1. Should a double carbon neutral company be considered better than a company like Sun that is organically reducing their carbon footprint? Any company can purchase offsets, but if they aren’t reducing their actual contributions why should they get additional recognition?

  2. Genuine carbon offsets (and I’m under the impression many are not that genuine) are better than nothing, but they are not, in the end, anywhere near as good as actually reducing one’s own carbon footprint. For example, Range Rover now markets a gas guzzling SUV that it claims is “carbon neutral” because they supposedly have purchased carbon offsets that will make up for the gas it burns (in its first 50,000 or so miles). Such a “carbon neutral” car is nowhere near as green, in truth, as a car that simply burns a lot less gas, such as a compact car or a true hybrid. We can’t have everyone just continue to put out the same amoutn of CO2, and then try to justify that behavior by trying to pay someone else to reduce their emissions. In the end, everyone needs to minimize their carbon footprint. If you’re minimizing your footprint, then it is fine (and in fact great) to invest in some offsets to make up for what you haven’t been able to eliminate. So, going “carbon neutral” should mean reducing your CO2 emissions as much as possible, and then buying offsets for those emissions you haven’t been able to avoid. And, of course, there are offsets and there are offsets. Some appear to be much more genuinely linked to CO2 reductions than others. I commend Sun for focusing on true CO2 emissions, but I would encourage them to also buy genuine offsets to help make up for those emissions they haven’t been able to avoid.

  3. Goods and services, Econ. 101. Until there is a recognized and regulated market these things (carbon off-sets) are just more of the baloney that obfuscates the green business arena, no matter how well meaning. SUNW is to be applauded.

  4. The best ton of CO2 offset is the one that is never produced. Sun is moving in the right direction. Minimize your footprint through efficiency, optimization, and adoption of best practices for your industry.
    Sun’s Santa Clara campus is a prime example of how to do all three.

  5. Your question “is it better to be double carbon neutral” is really not an interesting one. Let’s not introduce more confusion, and more confusing jargon. The goal should be to first reduce direct emissions, then indirect emissions by reducing energy use, and then consider investing in offsets.

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