Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Carbon offsetting through your paypacket

It was reported today that the UK Royal Mail (our postal service) is leading the way over here in enabling its staff to offset their carbon emissions.

Royal Mail employees can now offset their emissions by donating money (tax-free) directly from their pay packet to a charity called The Woodland Trust. This money enables the Trust to plant trees in their 1,000 UK woods.

Royal Mail have set up new carbon calculator called 'Ollie' for employees who contribute to the scheme, using the calculation they find out how many trees they would have to plant to offset their annual carbon footprint and to get tips about how to reduce their emissions.

This calculator asks employees about their home energy usage, as well as car and air travel before calculating how many trees will need to be planted to help offset their carbon footprints.

Only 12% of the UK wooded, compared to 46% on average in Europe. Planting trees more trees will create vital habitats for more species, it also traps pollution, generates oxygen, stabilises soil and forms a stunning part of the landscape.

The disappointing element of this story is however that the Royal Mail employ some 185,000 staff and only 130 of them are currently taking part in the scheme. However, about 50,000 of their staff are currently signed up to payroll giving schemes connected to other charities. There is therefore much scope for giving within the company once the awareness of carbon offsetting is raised.

The principle behind such schemes strikes me as a fantastic opportunity to raise awareness of carbon emissions through the workplace, which should then filter down to the home and the wider community. Carbon offsetting through payroll has the potential to be viewed as an incentive for recruitment and an endorsement of a company's environmental ethics.

The challenge is now for other businesses to offer this carbon offsetting opportunity to their staff.

Any thoughts on this posting? Are you seeing similar initiatives in the US?

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