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Chevrolet’s Carbon Offsetting Program Wins Top Honor From US EPA

Kelley Hamrick and Allie Goldstein

While the US Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Clean Power Plan excludes offsets, the organization still recognizes those efforts and more through its annual Climate Leadership Award. Winners of this year’s awards include UPS and Chevrolet, which is the largest purchaser of voluntary carbon offsets, according to CDP data.

February 27 2015 | And the winner is

No, this isnt the Oscars. Every year, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recognizes organizations with exemplary climate initiatives. This years leaders were announced at the Climate Leadership Conference in Washington, D.C. where sustainability leaders mingled for three days to share new research and best practices.

Though the Climate Leadership Awards (CLA) have only been around for the past four years, theres already a trend with multiple companies winning year-over-year awards. These powerhouse players include SC Johnson and Sprint, who both scored their third CLA with this years announcement.

One of the new winners also came with a new category: Chevrolet was awarded the Innovative Partnerships Certificate for their Campus Clean Energy Campaign that purchases offsets from participating universities engaged in energy efficiency and renewable energy projects. The company has been the largest purchaser of carbon offsets on the voluntary market for the past few years, according to the company and confirmed by data from CDP (formerly the Carbon Disclosure Project).

“[Chevrolet] did that to really drive and support innovative projects at a community-based level around the U.S. to help serve and improve the communities in which we operate,said David Tulauskas, Director of Sustainability and Manager of the Carbon Initiative.“And more importantly, engage consumers on the discussions on carbon and climate change. Its still lacking, and we still dont talk about it enough.

The campaign is part of the companys wider initiative to reduce eight million metric tonnes of carbon emissions the equivalent of the annual carbon reduction benefit of a mature forest the size of Yellowstone. The 11 participating colleges could earn an estimated $5 million from payments for their offsets through the program.

Chevrolet also financed and helped develop a new methodology under the Verified Carbon Standard (VCS) that allows colleges and universities to quantify offsets from on-campus projects.

Ive left an opportunity on the table as part of the legacy, Tulauskas said.“It would not take much effort, much collaboration to take this methodology that allows universities to monetize carbon reductions through their LEED-certified buildings [and apply it] to all office buildings. (LEED, which stands for Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design, is a certification system through the US Green Building Council that recognizes sustainable building design.)

Logistics company UPS also won an award for Excellence in Greenhouse Gas Management Goal Achievement for accomplishing a goal set in 2011 to reduce the carbon intensity from its transportation 10% by 2016, from a 2007 baseline. The company exceeded this goal by reducing carbon intensity 13% as of 2013.

UPS is also an active buyer of carbon offsets and engages customers by allowing them to neutralize the emissions of individual shipments. The company has purchased offsets from The Conservation Funds Garcia River Forest project in California, Wildlife Works Kasigau Corridor REDD (avoided deforestation) project in Kenya, and the Livelihood Funds wastewater-to-energy project in Thailand, among others.

“I dont want to discount in any way, shape or form the vital importance of offsetting because its absolutely part of the solution, said David Leffin, Director of Sustainability at UPS.

Check out the full list of winners here.

For a deeper understanding of the companies that incorporate offsetting as part of their carbon-management strategy, look for Ecosystem Marketplaces upcoming buyers report based on CDP data from top companies. It will be available next month.

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Kelley Hamrick is an Associate in Ecosystem Marketplace’s Carbon Program. She can be reached at khamrick@ecosystemmarketplace.com.
Allie Goldstein is also an Associate in the Carbon Program. She can be reached at agoldstein@ecosystemmarketplace.com.

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