Making the Most of Carbon Offsets

Making the Most of Carbon Offsets

Carbon offsets are a major part of the private sector companies hitting their "net-zero” targets. The idea is to balance out carbon emissions with an equal ratio of carbon stored. Right now, most carbon offsets are nature-based, either in the form of tree planting or protecting existing nature. But the speed and scale needed to make the carbon market effective needs to expand, argues Bank of America Europe Chair Anne Finucane in a Bloomberg op-ed.

Counting investment in new green technology as carbon offsets could financially power the expansion of renewable energy. "The change,” Finucane writes, "would unleash billions of dollars to flow into research and development aimed at reducing carbon in the atmosphere and creating meaningful funding for the expansion of renewable energy.”

The Economist: How do carbon markets work?, October 1, 2021.

Why This Matters

The market for carbon offsets increased by nearly 60% in the first 8 months of 2021 compared to 2020 and is only projected to grow. Finucane estimates that shifting the carbon market could "catalyze tens, possibly hundreds of billions of dollars into green technology for the next 10 years,” especially for the early-stage part of the process when investments can be harder to secure. The carbon offset market thus far has been a mixed bag of climate results while allowing businesses to claim they’re "net-zero;” any expansion would need to be well-defined, with constant transparent reporting about how the money is actually being spent. The recent SEC announcements about disclosure provide a degree of confidence that Americans will have real visibility into what companies are doing in their net-zero transitions.

CNBC: Why Tracking Carbon Emissions Is Suddenly A Billion Dollar Opportunity, September 14, 2021.

A Greener "Green Monster”

Last month, Boston’s famed Fenway Park -- where the left field wall is popularly referred to as the "Green Monster” -- announced it would contribute a portion of each ticket sale to carbon credit projects through a climate-focused finance company. This isn’t the first time the home of the Red Sox has taken steps to balance out its consumption. In 2018, the team started offsetting the ballpark’s electricity with renewable energy certificates.

Fenway was also the first Major League Baseball team to install solar panels. The 28 panels replace a little more than a third of the gas used for heating water.

The connection between climate change and America's favorite pastime doesn’t end here. Last year, a study based on data from 18,907 Major League Baseball games indicated that temperatures above 95 degrees Fahrenheit resulted in more incorrect calls by umpires.

Ceres: Mindy Lubber's Executive Interview with Anne Finucane | Bank of America at Climate Week NYC 2021, September 22, 2021.