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Industry urged to prioritise cutting emissions over offsetting

The UK’s Business Travel Association has called for “tougher” rules governing how carbon emissions are offset for corporate travel.

BTA said the UK government must take action to “prevent miscalculation of carbon emissions and unreliable offsetting activity” in its first environmental transparency report, entitled Carbon Offsetting: Beyond the Trees..

The association found that there is currently no standardization of carbon calculations from travel, with companies “ill-equipped” to accurately measure their carbon output, leading to the risk of “incorrectly implemented” offsetting practices.

BTA CEO Clive Ratten said: “Carbon offsetting is often relied upon as a way to reduce environmental guilt. Offsetting alone is no longer good enough, and the narrative must shift toward offsetting as a last resort to spur positive environmental outcomes.”

The BTA report also points to “credibility issues” facing some carbon offset providers but adds that offsetting can still help corporates achieve net-zero emissions if “properly implemented with and through a reputable source”.

The research explores a range of sustainable options and projects such as tree planting, reforestation, community initiatives, renewable energy and carbon capture.

“The focus should be on cooperation, reduction, standardization of reporting, clarity and stronger regulation as we move away from implementing offsetting as a first resort,” Wratten added in the report’s conclusion.

“To ensure this, we need to change our understanding of carbon offsetting. Carbon offsetting should not be applied as a substitute for reductions, and industry must focus on activities that reduce emissions rather than offsetting practices.”

The BTA’s next report will focus on sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) and will be published later this summer.

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