Carbon offsetting


Our approach
Since 2006, we have offset a large proportion of our unavoidable carbon emissions by investing in renewable energy projects. This means paying someone else to reduce their emissions by a specified amount. From 2010, we decided to only offset emissions from our business air travel, so that we focus our investment on improving energy efficiency.

How offsetting works
Governments, international institutions and private companies have devised a trading system to enable organizations to pay for emission reductions elsewhere. Using this system, companies can buy carbon credits to offset some of their unavoidable emissions.

For example, a village in India uses kerosene for light and cooking. Villagers would really benefit from electricity but they are miles away from the grid and they can't afford solar panels. A specialist offset agency pays for the panels and creates credits for the amount of CO2 saved by avoiding the use of kerosene. One credit equals one tonne of CO2 avoided. The agency then sells the credit which is used to offset emissions.

What we're doing
In 2011, we appointed a new provider, South Pole Carbon Asset Management, to offset our emissions from air travel from 2011 to 2013. During that period, our operating companies will cover the cost of offset equivalent to their annual air travel emissions. This will incentivise our companies to reduce air travel.

Named 'Best Project Developer' in 2011 Voluntary Carbon Market Survey published by Environmental Finance, South Pole has projects in 20 countries which work to reduce greenhouse gas emissions while benefitting local communities and the environment. WPP is supporting four renewable energy projects in China, New Caledonia, Taiwan and Turkey. 

Our performance
For a full summary of our progress in this area, read our latest Sustainability Report. The table below provides key performance data on our carbon offset purchases since 2007:


WPP's carbon offset purchases

  2007-2009 2010 2011-12
Carbon offsets purchased 585,000 70,000 197,041
Carbon offsets purchased as % of total carbon emissions 78% - -
Carbon offsets purchased as % of business air travel emissions * - 81% 100%

* From 2010, we decided to only offset emissions from our business air travel, so that we focus our investment on improving energy efficiency.

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For more information see the latest Sustainability Report