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Emission calculation - avoid the pitfalls

Aug 30, 2022 | Katariina Kurikka |

In my previous job, I got a couple of phone calls about determining the carbon footprint of the company I worked for. One of those times was particularly memorable.

On the phone, a friendly person told me that the company he represents helps companies reduce emissions through compensation. He talked about planting trees and asked if I would like to offset the emissions of my employer company. "Would you tell me a little more about that process," I asked. He said that they wanted to make compensation as easy as possible for the customer and continued that I could buy compensation right away on the phone - the invoice would follow. I was a little surprised, and I asked how the caller could find out the sum of our company’s emissions so quickly so that he could sell us just the right amount of compensation. "It's easy," he said, "we have a simple model, where you just tell how many employees there are in your company, and we multiply it by the average annual emissions of a Finnish person, and then it'll all be clear." "But we manufacture products, shouldn't their emissions somehow be reduced", I asked. "Well, this is such an easy and fast way to carbon neutrality," he said. "You certainly have so much else to do that we didn't want to make this too difficult".

I didn't buy the compensation, but the idea of a quick emission determination seemed quite tempting. I could tell my customer about the company’s carbon neutrality already at tomorrow's meeting! After all, we have been discussing that something should be done about these environmental issues. This would have been an easy and quick way to take care of the matter, one might easily think.

The climate business is a relatively new field, and as a mild phenomenon in any new field, alongside the experts, some just want to benefit from the trendiness of the new field and the fact that the basic principles of the field are not yet very familiar to many. Perhaps the intention of many is good, but sufficient skills are lacking. In such a situation, the buyer should stop and think for a moment.

Emission calculation easily sounds like simple mathematics. Let's take the emission coefficient and the sum of emissions, and by multiplying them, we get the correct result. And it gets even simpler if you start the calculation by bringing a knife to a gunfight like in the call I received.

So how can you identify a company that responsibly offers emissions calculation?

Sustainable emission calculation does not happen during one phone call, nor with one e-mail. The carbon footprint calculation according to the standards takes time not only from the consultant but also from the company itself: after all, someone must provide the information based on which the calculation can be carried out. Also, a responsible consultant not only offers compensation, but also helps the company to accurately determine current emissions, both its own emissions and the emissions caused through value chains and purchases made by the company. In addition, the responsible operator genuinely wants to primarily help the client company to reduce its emissions, and only secondarily offers compensation for those emissions that cannot be reduced. Sustainable carbon footprint calculation aims at a long-term emission reduction, and thus the compensation should also decrease year by year. And as for compensation and its responsibility, Anna has already written about it on our blog before.

The same rule applies to emissions calculation and compensation as it often does in life: you don't get good things for free, and big profits and the best results rarely come over the phone in an instant, even if someone promises so. After all, every company aims for a successful business, and sustainability in its various forms is already a competitive advantage for pioneering companies in many fields and an important tool for better results. Finland is committed to achieving carbon neutrality by 2035, and to reach that goal, we need companies to join us as a broad front. Emission calculation is not only a necessary evil, but if done carefully and correctly, it is an opportunity to make a more profitable business that will be competitive even in the coming decades.

If you are more interested in carbon footprint calculation, welcome to the webinar series organized by OpenCO2net. More information and registration here:

Register to the webinar: Carbon footprint calculation of a company, Thursday 22nd of September 2022, 9.00-10.00

Register to the webinar: Carbon footprint calculation of a product, Thursday 6th of October 2022, 9.00-10.00

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Contact us via the form or directly to our expert, and we can figure out together which calculator would work best for your organization.


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