Cleaning up the industry's carbon
Updated: Aug 3, 2020
Spotlight on Yacht Carbon Offset
‘The right step towards carbon neutrality..’
It comes as no surprise to anyone that the yachting industry doesn’t hold the greenest of credentials, especially when it comes to its carbon emissions. So what if there was an immediate and effective way for yachts to offset these emissions, thereby taking environmental responsibility? We spoke to Rachel, the Managing Director at Yacht Carbon Offset, a company offering a specialised carbon offset service that does just that.
Yacht Carbon Offset was launched 12 years ago to address environmental sustainability for the whole yachting community. In simple terms, Yacht Carbon Offset calculates a yacht’s carbon emissions and then offsets these emissions, tonne for tonne, with equivalent emission reductions from verified renewable energy projects.
What is the concept of carbon offsetting and how does it work within yachting?
The industry has many ways in which it adds significantly to its carbon footprint, be it from its engines, generators, tenders, yacht crew flights, onboard helicopters or from provision deliveries. Carbon offsetting is an opportunity to mitigate some of the yacht’s environmental impacts, counteracting the carbon dioxide emissions, bringing balance back to the environment. These emissions are calculated by analysing the quantity and type of fuel consumed and are then offset, “at a cost of around 2-3 euro cents per litre of fuel” says Rachel. After a detailed quotation process the money from the yacht’s offset payment is used to support a renewable energy project, expertly sourced by Yacht Carbon Offset. Offsetting works for both private and charter yachts, either incorporating the cost into the day-to-day running of a yacht or, when it comes to the charter industry, the charter client themselves can choose to offset their individual trip.
It isn’t just about a yacht’s engine, how else can the industry offset?
As well as carbon emissions from the yacht itself and its associated ‘toys’, emissions can also be offset from other areas of the industry. Quantifying emissions from yacht crew and their travel to and from the yacht is one of these additional ways to offset, especially when it comes to rotational crew. Back on land, emissions from yachting events can also be offset. Yacht Carbon Offset works regularly with various yacht shows such as Monaco, Antigua and Barcelona. Calculations are made on a number of factors dependent on the event, usually based on the travel to and from the event as well an estimate of the power used to heat or air condition the event space. Yacht Carbon Offset also has partnerships with yacht management and charter companies.
What kind of projects do Yacht Carbon Offset invest in and how are they chosen?
Without the support of the carbon credit system, most renewable energy projects would cease to exist or develop successfully. Before the project is confirmed by Yacht Carbon Offset, Rachel emphasises that there is a “detailed verification process and a fully documented procedure, to ensure transparency and due diligence of the project.” Having an extensive background in renewable energy projects allows Yacht Carbon Offset to use their expertise in choosing particular projects, whilst adhering to certain standards such as the Gold Standard and the Verified Carbon Standard. The projects chosen are relevant to yachting, either coastal based projects or projects chosen by a popular yachting region. See Yacht Carbon Offset’s website for a list of their current projects. Yacht Carbon Offset favour renewable energy projects over carbon sequestration projects, such as tree plantation and forestry conservation, as these projects take longer for the benefits to come to fruition. With the projects they select Rachel highlights that “the key advantage to carbon offsetting is that it is an immediate and effective action.”
What about alternative fuels?
The offsetting concept is not an excuse to continue to pollute, but it is an important tool to mitigate unavoidable carbon emissions. When speaking about alternative fuels and the future, Rachel says that “We are keen supporters of any action that can be taken to reduce carbon emissions. In our view we hope that the yacht owners and their crew will take every initiative possible to reduce their carbon footprint down to an unavoidable level.” Alternative fuels have become part of the bigger conversation in yachting, especially most recently in this ‘decade of sustainability’. However this takes time and the industry still has far to go to reduce its carbon to the minimum level possible.
Thoughts on the sustainability of the industry and the future of offsetting?
Yacht Carbon Offset has a similar stance to us at SSY when it comes to mindsets. It believes that a shift in mindsets will give the industry the push it needs in the direction of sustainability. Rachel highlights how many Captains and Owners are under the impression that offsetting will add a substantial cost to the yacht. This is untrue and based on previous quotations she explains that “it is not expensive to offset in comparison to overall operational costs. We indicate a cost of €200 for a typical week’s charter”. When it comes to charters, Yacht Carbon Offset isworking with brokers to sign up more and more yachts and hopes that in the future they can include tick boxes on preference sheets, as Rachel says “just like you are asked for your dietary preferences, you should also be asked if you want to offset your emissions from your charter.”
Although offsetting means an additional cost to the owner, this cost definitely overrides the long term costs that the industry is currently having on the environment. We hope that more yachts will offset their emissions, whilst implementing our Seastainable strategies onboard to improve the way yachts are run.