Are you looking to offset your business carbon footprint?

Most businesses have a carbon footprint, either through emissions produced by manufacturing, employee travel, or burning fossil fuels to heat office buildings, and many are now working towards carbon net zero. To cut their carbon footprint to zero can be challenging, so many are now using Carbon Offsetting to balance their carbon account.

Carbon offsetting is very attractive to businesses making their own commitment to environmental sustainability and the carbon zero target, and two of the most popular and effective environmental offsetting routes to carbon neutrality are: -

  1. The Woodland Carbon Code


  1. The Peatland Code

How does this work for businesses?

Both of these routes are accredited by the government and allow landowners to sell and businesses to buy carbon units for planting new woodland and restoring our peatlands.  If you are looking to offset the carbon your business produces these could be the solution for you.

When registering for either code the project must initially go through validation and from year 5, and thereafter every 10 years, must pass a verification audit. Carbon Units are predicted as Pending Issuance Units (PIUs) at validation stage, once verified these will become either Woodland Carbon Units (WCUs) or Peatland Carbon Units (PCUs). 

A PIU is not ‘guaranteed’ and cannot be used to report against UK-based emissions until Verified and converted to a Carbon Unit.  However, PIUs allow companies to plan and compensate for future emissions as part of their carbon reduction policies.  Buyers of PIUs can make a statement about their purchase but cannot make claims of offsetting, compensating for, balancing emissions, or carbon neutrality until these units are converted to actual Carbon Units at verification.  Currently the price per tonne of carbon dioxide equivalent (tCO2e) of PIUs is between £15-£25.

How do businesses identify projects and buy Carbon Units?

Only new woodlands are eligible for the Woodland Carbon Code and the planting design must comply with the UK Forestry Standard (UKFS). Any size of woodland is eligible, but it is likely that you would need to take advantage of the other available woodland creation grants to help support the project, therefore minimum area thresholds may apply.

With carbon capture in mind, more carbon is taken up by faster growing trees, so conifers will sequester more carbon faster than broadleaf trees, but there will need to be a mix of species included in the project to be UKFS compliant.

The Government has also launched the Woodland Carbon Guarantee (WCaG) to help accelerate woodland planting rates and develop the domestic carbon market. The WCaG gives you the option to sell your carbon as verified Carbon Credits to the government for a guaranteed price, every 5 or 10 years, up to 2055/56. This provides an additional long-term income from your woodland, but you can still choose to sell the credits on the open market rather than to the government.

Businesses can choose to plant trees on their own land if they have the space available or purchase land for the purpose of offsetting carbon with either trees or peatland restoration. Or they can purchase Verified carbon units off the UK Carbon Registry from projects that other landowners have completed.

How do I get carbon units from peatland?

Peatlands are our largest natural carbon store and will be critical to mitigating the effects of climate change. However, they are under threat, and in their current damaged state they release an estimated 23,000 kilo-tonnes of greenhouse gases every year (IUCN UK Peatland Programme).  Active management to conserve, restore, and sustainably manage our existing peatlands will allow peat to form again, therefore trapping carbon.

Land which is eligible for the Peatland Code must be either a fen with at least 45cm of peat and have been modified in some way, or be a bog with at least 30cm of peat and have been modified in some way. Baseline condition must be recorded, and restoration activities proposed to rewet and manage the peatland habitat going forward.  The project must be for a minimum of 30 years.  The aim is to reduce carbon emissions over the life of the project therefore increasing the amount of carbon in the peat.

How do businesses identify projects and buy Carbon Units?

The concept and the process for both Codes are complicated, and H&H Land & Estates is helping many businesses find the right projects to suit their carbon plans.

If you are interested in offsetting the carbon footprint of your business with either woodland planting or peatland restoration and would like to have more detailed information, please contact: [email protected]