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Carbon Insetting in Scotland

Carbon Insetting in Scotland

A blog written my Matthew Cameron, conservation ecologist at The Habitat People on 27/05/2022.

Most people are aware of carbon offsetting, a system where we compensate for our carbon footprint by paying external organisations to reduce carbon emissions or sequester carbon on our behalf. This is an essential element for organisations and individuals with unavoidable emissions and no means to compensate in their own value chain. Offsetting receives two common criticisms, a vulnerability to greenwashing and enabling a “business as usual” attitude. Although, many reliable companies offer offsetting services, including The Habitat People. An alternative emissions reductions pathway is insetting.

Insetting is about companies investing in the ecosystems that themselves and their suppliers function in. Not only to store carbon emissions but to bring resilience and lasting benefits to the people linked to the value chain. Flood risk reduction, air quality, shade provision, and biodiversity increase are common benefits brought by insetting projects. Our nature-based insetting service relies on transforming land within a company’s value chain by creation of carbon rich natural habitat. The primary goal to build up and measure soil organic carbon. We focus greatly on biodiversity gain and reconnecting people with the environment, for lasting improvements to wellbeing and workplace positivity.

It is important to mention that insetting is not a silver bullet to climate change. It does raise contentious questions on scope, additionality and permanence. Unfortunately, there are few organisations evaluating and validating Carbon Units of insetting which could set standards.

However, by insetting companies are making a direct and obvious effort to reduce net emissions. This bears a higher level of accountability than offsetting, which is more difficult to observe. When offsetting the responsibility of quality assurance of projects is born by the seller and verification organisations. Insetting offers a closer and usually clearer connection to companies, offering the accountability and vision of industry environmental leaders, and reducing greenwashing.

A unique benefit of insetting is the involvement of companies in their own carbon cutting activities. At the very least a company will have to investigate and re-evaluate their value chain to locate areas for insetting activity. However, companies will often go a lot further, reshaping and transforming their value chains. For example, Ben and Jerry’s financed an insetting project in Uganda, which helped small-scale vanilla farmers build intercropped agroforestry systems to improve and diversify production. 100,000 native trees were planted in and around the vanilla plots, which provides shade, enables the farmers to diversify their income and forms a carbon rich and more resilient ecosystem.

Unfortunately net emissions reduction such as offsetting is still considered a value-added service by many. It can be difficult to see the tangible value in channelling funds into external and often overseas projects. Although it’s certainly there! However, avoiding the carbon market altogether, insetting works on the value chain itself. In essence, improving a company’s future and retaining these funds inside the value chain. To many companies this could remove their greatest obstacle to cutting carbon.

It isn’t uncommon to find tropical insetting projects, where land and labour are affordable. But it is rare to find Scottish insetting initiatives. This needs to change! How many Scottish companies do you know that could improve their value chain, foot print, and local community, at the same time?

Find out how we do insetting

If you are interested in working with The Habitat People on a nature-based insetting project, have a look at our insetting page or get in touch.

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