ForTheDoers Blog

How can carbon removal help companies become carbon neutral?

Elba Horta  ·  14 February 2020

Companies play a big part in emitting carbon dioxide into the atmosphere and using up the planet’s resources. Good news is that becoming carbon neutral with carbon removal is nowadays on many companies’ agenda. At Fortum’s start-up Puro.earth, our experts have outlined the strategy to becoming carbon net-zero.

We are in a hurry to mitigate climate change. According to the IPCC, in order to halt temperature increase the top priorities are reducing emissions and removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. In fact, by 2050, emissions need to reach carbon net-zero, meaning that the carbon we emit is balanced out with carbon we remove and store.

Carbon net-zero is the new goal

Carbon neutrality means achieving a net balance in the carbon emissions of a company. Until recently it was achieved by buying traditional emission reduction offsets where the company pays and outsources for reductions elsewhere. However, this is no longer enough. The new goal is to become carbon neutral with carbon removal, i.e. carbon net-zero, meaning that you remove from the atmosphere the same amount of CO2 that you emit.

The steps to becoming a carbon neutral company with carbon removal

  1. Calculate your carbon footprint

There are many ways to do it, from average carbon footprint calculators to full-fledged environmental consulting services.  Emissions calculations should include electricity and heating consumption, business travel, company waste, as well as manufacturing and supply chain emissions.

  1. Reduce your carbon emissions

A good practice is to create a company-wide emissions reduction program that engages all employees and departments, and reduces the amount of environmental impact your company has. Easy reductions include switching to renewable energy, reducing waste and encouraging telecommuting. Another good practice is to charge an internal carbon tax based on business division carbon emissions, and use the funds to pay for sustainability improvements.

  1. Create a carbon removal portfolio

After reducing emissions the organization must remove the carbon it emits by investing in negative emissions technologies or carbon-net-negative offsets. It is important that they are measurable, verified and long term. For example, CO2 Removal Certificates or CORCs, confirm 1 tonne of CO2 has been absorbed and stored away from the atmosphere for the long-term in a carbon net-negative product, so to become a carbon net-zero company you should acquire the number of CORCs that match your emitted tonnes.

CORCs are the missing piece in your carbon neutrality strategy

Responsible companies are doing their part. Many purchase carbon offsets from reforestation projects which restore natural carbon sinks. But it's inevitable, companies continue to create carbon emissions, while trees take many years to sequester CO2. 

Fortunately, there are carbon net-negative technologies already available that can remove carbon at an industrial scale and store it for the long term. Carbon net-negative means less, or even better, than carbon neutral. A carbon net-negative product absorbs more CO2 than it emits in its manufacturing, with the net effect of removing carbon from the atmosphere. 

At Puro.earth we have created a new kind of carbon offset, the CO2 Removal Certificate or CORC, based on carbon net-negative products. The carbon sequestration happens faster and we can measure it reliably.

What are CO2 Removal Certificates or CORCs?

CO2 Removal Certificates are digital tradable carbon assets that confirm 1 tonne of CO2 has been absorbed and stored in a carbon net-negative product. CORCs are issued for only the extra carbon absorbed after a third party verification of the product has proven that it is carbon net-negative from cradle-to-gate.

At the moment, CORCs are issued for three CO2 removal methods, to help organizations become carbon neutral: 

Biochar - a very stable, solid form of carbon that can endure in soil for thousands of years, making it an ideal technology for scalable carbon removal. It has multiple commercial uses at potentially industrial volumes, for example, as greenhouse additive, in soil regeneration and in wastewater treatment. It is produced from biomass or biowaste, through pyrolysis (heated in the absence of oxygen).

Biochar

Carbonated Building Elements - Manufactured concrete-like building elements from steel slag (waste material from steel industry) instead of traditional cement. Basically, it’s CO2 negative concrete that removes more CO2 than its production emits. During the hardening phase CO2 is chemically bound and mineralized permanently into the building element.

carbonated building elements

Wooden Building Elements - Growing trees capture carbon but the carbon may go back to circulation if the trees are cut, decompose or are used for paper or energy. Carbon removal is considered long term when it’s stored in wooden building elements. In Europe, buildings are regulated to have a minimum lifetime of 50 years, and in real life the CO2 storage is likely to be longer. By storing CO2 for a minimum of 50 years, wooden building elements present an opportunity for companies to invest in carbon capture and storage, and take proactive steps towards carbon neutrality.

building

Characteristics of CORCs

  • Science-based carbon net-negative offset
  • Long-term storage of CO2 guaranteed (min 50 years, at least until 2070)
  • From industrial processes that can scale
  • Factual removal - CORCs are issued retrospectively after production
  • Lifetime of 12 months from the issuance date – no vintage

The benefits of becoming a carbon neutral company

Being a carbon neutral company has many benefits besides climate impact. It makes you a sustainable business, creates positive publicity and goodwill, and may lower financing costs.  The assignment of CORCs to emissions from operations, events, business flights and other activities can be included in sustainability reporting and in your corporate communications.

For further impact, bundle CORCs with products and services to make them carbon neutral too. By making your products and services carbon neutral, you can differentiate from your competitors and increase sales with premium carbon neutral options.

Neutralizing your emissions with carbon removal is possible today. Start your journey by learning more about CO2 Removal Certificates or by contacting us.

The blog post is based on an article published on the Puro.earth website.

Elba Horta

Elba Horta
Business Development Manager
Puro.earth
elba.horta@fortum.com