Carbon Offsets
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Insights from European Sustainability Conferences

3Degrees has been spanning the globe in recent weeks to connect with organizations that are at the forefront of sustainability and climate change action.

We attended several conferences across Europe and wanted to share some of our key takeaways and common themes that we have been hearing.

We attended the following conferences:

  • Sustainable Aviation Summit, October 3-5, Geneva
  • Companies vs Climate Change, October 4-6, Brussels
  • Responsible Supply Chain Summit, October 17-18, London

Here is what we heard:

  • Supply chain is seen as the next area of opportunity. At both the Supply Chain Summit (obviously) and at Companies vs Climate Change, there was a clear recognition that Scope 3 (supply chain) emissions are the most challenging to address. While more companies are reporting, training, and auditing, there was a lot of interest in implementing initiatives that achieve measurable results. We have seen this desire for ideas on how to make real progress from both clients and prospects. As a result, we have partnered with CDP, Smithfield Foods, and Akamai on a webinar focused on concrete actions that can be taken today around supply chain emissions. The webinar is October 26, but if you miss it, you can can still get a copy of the recording.  
  • European firms are very focused on Sustainable Development Goals. One of our key takeaways from all of these conferences is how central Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are for European companies – in a way that is not the case for most U.S. based companies as of yet. As a reminder, SDGs are a set of 17 goals, created by the United Nations in 2015, that tackle a range of issues from hunger, to gender inequality, to climate change. Many companies are using these goals as a guidepost for their sustainability strategies. 
  • Carbon offsets are a hot topic. At both the Aviation Summit and Companies vs Climate Change there was a lot of talk about carbon projects. By and large, the companies that were investing in carbon offsets were focused on projects that support communities in the developing world and offer storytelling opportunities. An open question remains on if there will be enough charismatic projects to meet demand when the airline industry carbon offset requirements go in effect (voluntary starting in 2021, required after 2026). This is something that our own carbon markets team is working on as they look to bring more boutique projects into our portfolio.

Overall, across all the conferences, it became clear that European companies are very focused on carbon neutrality (as opposed to just a percent emission reduction) and the opportunities this creates for improvements in their operations and supply chains. This momentum in Europe should drive companies in other parts of the world to become fast followers, learning from their counterparts on how to make material progress on climate change.