For companies aiming for climate neutrality, the first step is to determine their current carbon footprint by analyzing emissions in three sectors:

  1. Direct emissions produced within the company, such as CO2 emissions from company vehicles or chemical processes in production.
  2. Indirect emissions from energy supply outside the company.
  3. Emissions generated by the company’s operations, including supply chains.

Based on this analysis, climate protection targets are set, and potential emission savings are identified. Companies then develop appropriate measures to reduce avoidable greenhouse gas emissions, which may vary depending on the industry.

For example, businesses can replace business trips with video conferencing and encourage the use of public transport instead of air travel. Switching to renewable energy sources for electricity supply significantly contributes to climate friendliness, as electricity generated from lignite produces substantial CO2 emissions, while solar, wind, or hydropower have low emissions.

Offsetting unavoidable emissions is the final step. This involves purchasing high-quality CO2 reduction certificates from offset providers. Companies can choose between compensating for all their emissions or offsetting specific activities, such as neutralizing the company’s internal vehicle fleet.

In practice, a company emitting 5,000 tons of carbon dioxide per year would use an offset provider to calculate the financial contribution needed for climate protection projects that compensate for this CO2. International standards are applied in these calculations. Projects supported with the funds may include reforestation or the construction of wind and hydroelectric power plants, which effectively avoid CO2 emissions and compensate for the company’s emissions.

Many offset providers require companies to implement other climate protection measures alongside offsetting. Some providers only accept companies committed to operating in a balanced manner and developing new technologies for market adoption. Avoiding CO2 emissions should always be the primary focus, with offsetting considered as a last resort.

The Gold Standard is a highly respected certification standard for offsetting emissions. It imposes stringent requirements on companies and is effective in combating climate change. The Gold Standard collaborates with renowned nature conservation organizations like the WWF and promotes projects related to energy efficiency, renewable energies, social aspects, and local community involvement.

The Alliance for Development and Climate Foundation, with over 1,000 supporters from businesses, government, and civil society, aims to achieve climate neutrality by avoiding, reducing, and offsetting greenhouse gas emissions. The alliance recognizes various standards, including the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM), Verified Carbon Standard (VCS), Gold Standard, Plan Vivo, SD VISta, Climate Community & Biodiversity Standard (CCBS), Social Carbon, and American Carbon Registry (ACR).

To prove climate neutrality, several certifications are available. The USIQ certification “Climate Neutral Company (DIQP)”, for example, involves random checks of data and documentation related to CO2 compensation to verify climate neutrality.

Conclusion: Climate neutral

Every company and individual inevitably generates greenhouse gas emissions. It applies to industrial companies with their energy and material use, as well as to private households. It is crucial to consider not only shopping choices and food consumption but also the responsible use of electrical appliances. In larger companies, emissions can quickly accumulate to significant levels.

While emissions can be reduced through energy efficiency measures, complete prevention is often not possible. To achieve climate neutrality, it is advisable to “avoid – reduce – compensate.” Avoiding and reducing emissions, such as by transitioning to green electricity or electric vehicles, should always be the primary focus. Only emissions that cannot be avoided should be offset by supporting climate protection projects worldwide.