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Recently, I blogged about Australian telecommunications company Telstra’s announcement to re-prioritize their “climate change investments to take more direct action, moving funds away from the purchase of carbon credits in favour of decarbonisation projects that will reduce our footprint overall.”  Coming from a technical environmental and practical business background, I felt this was a positive change. In my opinion, reducing actual point source emissions in the first place is definitive, technically demonstrable, non-ambiguous and minimizes regulatory risks related to other potential climate solutions. Even so, not everyone agrees. A thought-provoking counterpoint was published on LinkedIn.

The author argues that:

  • the shift in strategy abandons Scope 3 emissions reductions by focusing on a 70% reduction in Scope 1 and 2 emissions. In doing so, “the new reduction target is only a modest shift from 50% to a 57.2% reduction by 2030” in total emissions; and
  • the emission reductions “will come almost exclusively from the transition to renewable energy. If Australia achieves its target of 82% renewables by 2030, Telstra will easily hit the new target without lifting a finger. Add to this that Telstra also touted that they have secured offtake to hit 100% renewables by 2025, meaning that the new target is already all but achieved.”

The author concedes in a graph of emissions through 2050 that – all things equal – the company will achieve the same overall emissions reductions by 2048 either way (using offsets or implementing the new strategy). A careful reading of the post indicates to me that his point is the company should emphasize “compensation” for its Scope 3 emissions now – which is an interesting word, carrying a certain connotation. On the other hand, it may also have a different meaning in Australia than it does here in the US.

It just seems odd for a company to be criticized for making physical emissions reductions and using the growth of renewables rather than using offsets.

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The Editor

Lawrence Heim has been practicing in the field of ESG management for almost 40 years. He began his career as a legal assistant in the Environmental Practice of Vinson & Elkins working for a partner who is nationally recognized and an adjunct professor of environmental law at the University of Texas Law School. He moved into technical environmental consulting with ENSR Consulting & Engineering at the height of environmental regulatory development, working across a range of disciplines. He was one… View Profile