Universalia is committed to limiting the impact of its business activities on the environment. For all flights undertaken for all projects launched on or after January 1st, 2019, Universalia invests into projects that offset the carbon emissions of our air travel. This includes business development, conference participation, and all project related flights.
Our partnership program
On flights related to projects, Universalia invites its clients to join us in partnership to offset these costs, through our Carbon Offset Partnership Programme. Universalia invites its clients to offset 50% of CO2 emissions (equivalents), with Universalia offsetting the other 50%. Universalia also identifies participating clients on its website as partners in the Carbon Offset Partnership Programme, with client consent.
Should clients be unable to contribute, Universalia is committed to covering the total offset cost itself. In other words, Universalia will ensure that the totality of our air travel emissions are offset in any case, reflecting our commitment to the environment and to future generations. Offset certificates are purchased at project completion and are available to clients upon request.
The following spreadsheet outlines Universalia’s emissions and corresponding offsets for projects signed as of January 1st, 2019. Please note that offsets are usually purchased at project completion as opposed to after every flight, meaning that offsets for currently ongoing projects may not yet appear.
With their permission, we are proud to share the logos of Universalia clients who have agreed to co-finance, at the level of 50 percent, the offsetting of air travel they have commissioned us to undertake.
Frequently Asked Questions / Further Information
What is ‘carbon offsetting’?
The general rationale for purchasing offsets is that rapid increases in the atmospheric concentration of ‘greenhouse gases’ (GHGs) generated by human activity have been linked to unusually rapid rises in observed global temperatures. This rapid disruption of the global climate system generates substantial adaptation risks for natural ecosystems as well as for human societies and economies.1
‘Carbon offsetting’ consists in reducing the greenhouse gases (GHGs) generated by one activity to balance out or ‘offset’ the GHGs generated by another activity. An example would be to invest in a green energy project to reduce GHGs in the production of electricity, to compensate GHGs generated by other activities such as taking a plane. More information can be found at https://davidsuzuki.org/what-you-can-do/carbon-offsets/.
Carbon offsets do not ‘improve’ or ‘reverse’ human-induced climate change; at best, they prevent it from accelerating further. However, carbon offsets may have some social side-benefits, as the financed projects (e.g. cleaner electricity production) may generate employment or healthier living environments.
Where does Universalia purchase its offsets?
Greenhouse gas emissions generated by Universalia’s air travel are estimated and then offset via www.less.ca, rated as the best provider of carbon offsets in Canada by the Pembina Institute and the David Suzuki Foundation. (https://www.pembina.org/reports/offset-purchase-guide-v3.pdf). We purchase ‘Gold Standard’ certified offsets, the highest international standard for emission offsets. Certified Emission Reduction (CER) credits for Gold Standard offsets are issued by the United Nations Executive Board and based on the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM). More information about the Gold Standard, including what types of projects it does and does not cover, can be found at https://www.goldstandard.org/.
Universalia is aware that many different methods exist to estimate the carbon emissions generated by a given flight passenger; that different offset projects use different technologies and approaches; and that offsets are sold by many different providers. We will continue to monitor the carbon offset market to work with estimations, providers and projects that we can trust.
How much does it cost?
As of April 2020, offsets purchased through less.ca cost CAD$24.00 per tonne of CO2 Equivalent (plus Canadian sales tax). This price is set by a third party and subject to change.
Are offsets tax deductible?
No. At the moment, offsets are not tax deductible in Québec or Canada, and Universalia derives no tax benefits from their purchase.
Why flights? Does this cover all of Universalia’s environmental footprint?
Air travel is a disproportionate contributor to global greenhouse gas emissions.2 By some estimates, a New York-Paris return trip generates the equivalent of roughly 1 ton of CO2 emissions per passenger, roughly the equivalent of 1 month of emissions of a typical person in the US, or of almost 4000 kilometres (2400 miles) in an average car.3 Our commitment covers our air travel, because we are able to monitor air travel emissions and believe they constitute the largest part of our environmental footprint, relative to other greenhouse gas emissions generated by our business activities (e.g. office heating, taxis, etc.). That said, we have not conducted a formal audit of our environmental / carbon footprint.
Wouldn’t it be better not to fly at all?
We carefully review what air travel we propose, in light of the needs of the assignment and the client. Where possible, Universalia is committed to exploring solutions (e.g. virtual meetings) that avoid flying altogether, given air travel’s disproportionate impact on the environment as well as the benefits of other options for work-life balance. Nonetheless, we do believe in the value of face-to-face interactions, and have committed to carbon offsetting when travel cannot be avoided.
What has been clients’ response to this?
Starting in January 2019, we have worked to systematically include the offer to participate in UCOPP in our proposals to clients. The feedback we have received is overwhelmingly positive. Whilst some clients are not able to participate in cost-sharing (e.g. due to internal restrictions on eligible travel expenses), we are excited about the conversations we are able to have about the environmental footprint of their and our work. In the meantime, Universalia’s considers its air travel part of its own footprint, and is committed to covering 100% of offset costs when clients cannot participate.
Will CORSIA make your offsets irrelevant?
Hopefully one day! We are aware of and welcome the Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme (CORSIA) being spearheaded by the United Nations’ International Civil Aviation Authority (ICAO), which, incidentally, is headquartered in Montréal like ourselves. CORSIA is in essence an international agreement for states and airlines to increasingly account for and offset their own emissions. It will be implemented in phases over the course of 2019-2035, to move the industry from voluntary monitoring to mandatory accounting and offsetting. More information is available here: https://www.icao.int/environmental-protection/Pages/A39_CORSIA_FAQ2.aspx. For the time being, Universalia is committed to offsetting its air travel-related emissions as these are not yet being accounted for and offset by countries and airlines.
Where can I obtain more information on this?
We would love to hear from you! Find us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
1See, for instance, https://www.ipcc.ch/sr15/ and other related assessments.
2Disproportionate in the sense that its share of global emissions is much higher than the share of the global population that regularly utilizes air travel. Typical estimates are that air travel accounts for 2 percent of the total climate change impact of human activity. See https://www.icao.int/environmental-protection/Documents/ICAO%20Environmental%20Report%202016.pdf, p.97.