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Exploring Carbon Offset and Removal: A Discussion with Duncan Morris and Tom Previte

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In a recent 'Lunch & Learn' session hosted by Duncan Morris, Head of Sustainability at Fourfront Group, and Tom Previte, Commercial Associate at Supercritical, our team had the opportunity to dive into the significance of Carbon Offset and Removal. This session, part of Area's ongoing Sustainability Series, shed light on various removal methods and their pivotal role in addressing the climate crisis. In this blog post, we'll provide an overview of the key takeaways from this engaging discussion.

Understanding the Scope of Carbon Emissions

Kicking off the conversation, Duncan Morris underscored the expansive scope of carbon emissions and the importance of accounting for scopes 1, 2 and 3. He emphasised that carbon emissions aren’t limited to just day-to-day operations but, in the world of construction, also encompass projects undertaken by companies. This comprehensive approach aims to account for the entirety of a company's carbon footprint, moving beyond traditional boundaries.

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The Role of Carbon Removal

Representing Supercritical, a comprehensive climate platform streamlining accurate footprint calculations, robust climate planning, and carbon removal to meet targets, Tom Previte elaborated on the concept of carbon removal. He explained the need to both reduce emissions and actively remove carbon from the atmosphere. The analogy of a bathtub was used to illustrate the concept – reducing emissions turns off the tap (preventing more carbon from entering the atmosphere), while carbon removal is like pulling the plug (actively extracting carbon from the atmosphere).

Distinguishing Carbon Removal from Offset

Previte emphasised the difference between carbon removal and traditional carbon offsetting. While offsetting often involves paying to prevent a tonne of CO2 from entering the atmosphere, carbon removal actively extracts a tonne of CO2 from the atmosphere. Achieving net zero emissions requires a combination of emissions reduction and high-quality carbon removal, not merely offsetting.

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Exploring Carbon Removal Methods

The discussion delved into various carbon removal methods, ranging from nature-based solutions like afforestation (tree planting) to more engineered approaches such as direct air capture. It was noted that while nature-based solutions can remove CO2, they may not provide permanent or long-term removal due to external factors. Engineered solutions, though more expensive, offer durable and permanent carbon removal.

Industry Recognition and Standards

The UK Green Building Council, the Science-Based Targets initiative, and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) have highlighted the need for carbon removal in the built environment. The discussion pointed out that industry bodies are working to establish standards for net zero construction, further emphasising the importance of including carbon removal in sustainability strategies.

Scaling the Carbon Removal Industry

Previte explained that the carbon removal industry is still in its early stages and faces challenges in scaling up. Advanced purchasing is one solution, where companies commit to buying carbon removal credits in advance to support the development of projects. The industry is evolving, and as more companies invest in carbon removal, it will expand to meet the growing demand.

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This 'Lunch & Learn' session provided valuable insights into the importance of carbon removal in addressing the climate emergency. It highlighted the need for a comprehensive approach that combines emissions reduction with high-quality carbon removal. As the industry evolves, businesses and organisations like Fourfront Group and Supercritical are exploring ways to make a meaningful impact on carbon removal and achieve a more sustainable future.

For more information on embracing carbon removal as a key component of your environmental strategy, please get in touch.

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