Action MattersSustainability

What is a Carbon Offset?

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Carbon offsets help compensate for the release of emissions in one place--such as tailpipe emissions from your packages moving through the UPS network--by eliminating them elsewhere in the world. The CarbonNeutral Company states that "growth in the world's population and increasing consumption is expected to lead to a three-fold rise in energy demand during the next century, which is thought will lead to a 2-4º centigrade increase in average global temperature." UPS carbon neutral shipping allows you to purchase offsets to reduce the impact of your shipments.

UPS has a robust process, certified by the CarbonNeutral Company as adhering to the CarbonNeutral Protocol, and verified by Société Générale de Surveillance (SGS). It is a forward-looking strategy that addresses the CO2 you simply cannot eliminate within your supply chain. We handle the details; from sourcing of high quality carbon offset projects, to the purchase and required retirement of the offsets.

The offset types we target include Gold Standard, Voluntary Carbon Standard (VCS), and Climate Action Reserve (CAR) certified offsets. We've supported global projects in Colombia, Thailand, China, and the US. The breadth of projects funded ranges from methane gas destruction, to forest conservation management, to alternative energy. Supporting them not only reduces your shipments' impact on the planet, but supports emerging innovation that helps our environment-with no negative expense to the communities in which they operate.

How Carbon Offsetting Works

In general, carbon offsets are measured and sold in metric tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e). Buying carbon offsets means there will be an equal reduction of carbon dioxide elsewhere in the atmosphere. Carbon offsetting gives businesses--and increasingly, consumers--the opportunity to reduce the negative impact of their activities.

A valid carbon offset must:

  • Include proof that the reduction in emissions would not have occurred without the offset purchase.
  • Be retired from the carbon market so it is not double counted.
  • Show that it actually delivers the stated reduction.
  • Not cause an increase in emissions elsewhere.

At UPS, we conduct an annual audit to determine the total amount of emissions released by the previous year's shipping. A second audit is conducted on UPS carbon neutral shipments to make sure that we have accounted for enough offsets to achieve the overall carbon neutral impact.

To do your part, simply select the UPS carbon neutral shipping option when creating your online shipment. We'll help you make it easy and affordable to reduce your CO2 impact while demonstrating your commitment to sustainability.

Retiring Offsets

Retiring an offset means removing it from the marketplace so it cannot be purchased again. Each individual offset is usually given a serial number and placed in an official registry to prevent reuse. UPS retires offsets for all carbon neutral shipments in accordance with industry standards.

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