Geo-Environmental Services Ltd has been monitoring their emissions for a number of years and whilst we have installed what measures we can, such as LED lighting and air-source heat pumps to minimise our emissions, we have been unable to find a sustainable alternative to the van fleet. Following a meeting of our sustainability group, where carbon off-setting was raised as a short term solution to achieve Net Zero whilst we await the arrival of suitable EV alternatives onto the market, we have off-set 13.75 tCO2E generated during the first two months of our financial year through a scheme with My Carbon Plan and plan to off-set monthly thereafter.
We chose My Carbon Plan because they are the only not-for-profit dedicated to creating carbon offset projects in the UK. Their aim is to enable and assist people and companies to reach carbon net-zero and help solve climate change. We were impressed by the evidence that they could supply of actual projects ongoing and this has given us the confidence to support them.
It is important to stress that this is a temporary measure and we will continue to search for an effective EV alternative, for our Net Zero goals, over the next three years.
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To date, My Carbon Plan, through their projects, has planted more than 120,000 trees in the UK already. They focus on funding for tree planting because trees capture carbon. Carbon can be effectively captured by planting trees. It’s also crucial to protect existing forests. They primarily fund the planting of new trees on the land that isn’t already covered in forest (There are already a number of worthwhile charities dedicated to the preservation of existing woodland). The growing stage is when a tree captures the most carbon, more than when they are fully mature.
They optimize for ‘tree years’. One tree-year is equal to one year of growth. Every action taken is aimed at increasing the number of tree-years they can produce. The more trees they can plant and the longer they can keep the site under their care, the better. On average, one broadleaf (e.g. oak) tree-year absorbs 25-35kg of carbon. A smaller tree variety may absorb less, but can be planted more densely – so will capture similar levels of carbon per acre each year.
They use a variety of models that have been validated with data from academic studies, and 1 tonne of CO2 offset costs as little as £6.50. This will, for example, fund 40 broadleaf ‘tree-years’ or 20-30 willows planted for 25 years of short rotation coppicing (SRC).
They prefer to plant two sets of trees: trees indigenous to a specific country or region; or trees suitable for a specific end-use case, such as construction. They are mindful of the local habitat and ecosystem, ensuring that no existing wildlife is harmed as a result of their tree-planting efforts. Different trees absorb carbon at different rates; broadleaf trees absorb carbon more efficiently than conifers (though they cannot be planted as densely). My Carbon Plan works with other organizations and landowners to plant trees, providing funding and saplings. In exchange, they ask for a guarantee that the trees planted will be:
Well cared for and there for at least ten years, if they are chopped down, they will be used for appropriate purposes (e.g., not burned or dumped); and if they are cut down, they will be replaced. Trees are planted on 3 types of land:
Owned sites: plant trees on their own land to ensure the trees’ full life-cycle protection and end-use protection;
Managed sites: plant trees on other people’s land after they sign a pledge to protect and preserve the trees.
Owned sites ensure the maximum tree years. They look to acquire their own sites for 100 years and partner sites for 10 years.
The act of planting a tree is only the beginning of the process that includes inspecting the trees on a regular basis to ensure that they are well-maintained. Once mature, May Carbon Plan, is open to trees being used for sustainable purposes such as furniture, construction, and biofuels. As long as a similar number of saplings (or more!) are planted in their place.
A ‘carbon-well’ is created when carbon is captured in a forest. This poses a problem because, if the forest burns down, all of the carbon will be released into the atmosphere. They can ensure the end-use by controlling the land where trees are planted. My Carbon Plan wants to harvest trees and use them in construction to ensure that carbon is captured indefinitely. On the same land, they can then plant more trees. And so on…
They monitor and contribute to discussions on best practices and regulations to ensure our activities are sustainable and remain positive for the environment. They liaise with interested parties, industry organisations and scientific bodies, to adopt best practises; at the same time ensuring their transparency and accountability to donors.
To learn more go to: https://www.mycarbonplan.org/