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Should Carbon Offsetting be a Last Resort?

Should Carbon Offsetting be a Last Resort?
15 April 2024 | Updated 16 April 2024

The Science Based Targets initiative has announced plans to allow carbon offsetting for scope 3 emissions.

A press release from the UN-backed climate certification company says that carbon offsetting “could function as an additional tool to tackle climate change.” It will therefore amend its flagship Corporate Net-Zero Standard to allow carbon offset credits to count towards attempts to meet scope 3 emission targets.

The SBTi also said it would not be responsible for “validating carbon credits quality.”

Carbon offsetting involves counteracting the emissions that remain after all available reduction initiatives have been implemented. It must be permanent and licensed and can include measures such as reforestation or investments in initiatives that reduce greenhouse gas emissions. 


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SBTi Staff Calls for CEO’s Resignation


The decision has been condemned by The Science Based Targets initiative’s (SBTi) own staff, according to a letter seen by The Guardian. 

In the letter to management, employees have reportedly stated that they are “ready to support any efforts aimed at ensuring that the SBTi does not become a greenwashing platform where decisions are unduly influenced by lobbyists, driven by potential conflicts of interest and poor adherence to existing governance procedures.” 

They have also allegedly called for CEO Luis Fernando do Amaral’s resignation. 

Carbon Market Watch has called the move “a blow to the SBTI’s credibility”. Carbon Market Watch’s Executive Director Sabine Frank said: “This decision defies both good governance and science. If it is not reversed, it will strip the SBTi of its ‘science-based’ nature and will mark a step back for voluntary climate initiatives globally. By granting excessive flexibility to companies, SBTi will lose its raison d’être: promoting robust and effective corporate climate action.”

“We will not applaud companies that cover up their inaction through the purchase of ineffective carbon credits.”


“Carbon offsetting should really be a last resort as the most powerful thing we can do to reduce emissions is to lower energy use.”

–Kam Singh

Director of Carbon Solutions, EMCOR UK


Kam Singh, Director of Carbon Solutions at FM service provider EMCOR UK, maintains that carbon offsetting should be a last resort for companies:

“I appreciate that scope 3 emissions are the most challenging to measure, especially for companies with vast supply chains, many of which may be too small to have the capacity to record their emissions.

“However, the impetus is on the larger firms to educate and support their supply chains and bring them on the net-zero journey. Carbon offsetting should really be a last resort as the most powerful thing we can do to reduce emissions is to lower energy use.




“There are a number of ways that companies can go about reducing emissions. Energy procurement specialists can secure optimal energy contracts and assess current and future needs to minimise exposure to volatile markets through energy price risk management.

“Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs) are also a good option for becoming less reliant on centralised generation and energy companies. PPAs include accessing offsite renewable energy generation and being able to state exactly how much renewable power you are generating, and from which source – so it’s a very transparent method of energy use.

“With a number of decarbonisation options available, I do hope that businesses will consider how they can reduce their emissions before exploring carbon offsetting.” 

A first draft outlining the potential change will be issued by SBTi by July 2024.

Picture: a photograph of a green leafy plant growing amongst some moss. Image Credit: Unsplash

Article written by Ella Tansley | Published 15 April 2024


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