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FTSE 100 Firms Offset 0.1% of Carbon

Members of the FTSE 100 buy carbon offsets worth only 0.1 percent of their carbon emissions – a “pitifully low” proportion, according to a new study.

The study by offsetting firm Carbon Retirement found that 21 of the FTSE 100 companies offset their carbon, and six of these claim to be carbon neutral. Voluntary offsetting is limited to only three sectors: financial, consumer discretionary and consumer staples.

“Currently the total quantity of offsets reported or inferred in the FTSE 100 is 2.8million ton, which is 0.1 percent of the total FTSE 100 carbon emissions for scopes 1, 2 and 3,” the report said. “If the FTSE 100 are to make meaningful steps towards reducing their collective environmental impact, then offsetting, as well as ambitious emission reduction strategies, must play a more substantial role.”

The study found that Unilever and Reckitt Benckiser are the carbon offset leaders among the FTSE 100, although both could expand their use of offsetting. Unilever has an overall carbon intensity of 2.7 tCO2e per thousand dollars of revenue. One of its brands, Ben and Jerry’s, has been carbon neutral since 2007.

Reckitt Benckiser has an overall carbon intensity of 2.0 tCO2e per thousand dollars of revenue. Its manufacturing has been carbon neutral since 2006.

The study found that 90 percent of the offsetting companies are non-carbon intensive. This may because they can offset a significant proportion of their emissions at relatively low cost, Carbon Retirement said. They are also less likely to be covered by emissions regulation and therefore more likely to engage in voluntary offsetting.

Around half of the companies reported using third-party standards, and firms said that just under two thirds of their credits are verified. Carbon Retirement said this level is low, given that 90 percent of all voluntary offsets transacted globally in 2009 were third-party verified.

But the discrepancy may be due to non-disclosure rather than companies failing to purchase verified offsets, the report added.

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