Carbon offsetting for gas consumption?

hiya

I’m trying to decide whether to switch to bulb or Octopus. Octopus offset the carbon for gas, does bulb? How is bulb gas green?

Thanks

Hi @jennilloyd

10% of our gas is biomethane. It’s anaerobically digested from pig waste, making it carbon neutral. We wrote a blog on it here if you’re interested - Bulb’s green gas. We’re going to increase the proportion of our gas that comes from green sources as it becomes available. It’s a pretty new industry, so there isn’t a huge amount of it to buy yet.

We feel that it’s important to support generation of green gas in the UK. Carbon offsetting is a great thing, and we’re definitely considering it ourselves, but we believe it’s equally important to reduce the demand for fossil fuels and to increase the demand for biomethane. By having genuinely green gas we’re increasing the demand for biomethane and reduce the demand for fossils, so it’s a double win in our eyes.

Hope this helps,

Will

Hi Will,

I’m also looking switching to Bulb or Octopus. I agree with what you said re: buying more biomethane. However, why isn’t Bulb offsetting what it can’t in the meantime?

Thanks,

Tim

@goldendel, it’s a great point and we actually have a meeting with a carbon offsetting group this week. We’re definitely keen on it.

Perfect response Will :slight_smile: Can you please post an update when you’ve had the meeting? Thanks, Tim

Will do! I’ll set a reminder for me to follow it up on Friday for you.

I’m in two minds about the supposed value of carbon offsetting. To the extent that it lets anyone believe it’s OK to use fossil fuels because they’re using this system to “compensate”, it can actually be counter-productive. Surely we should be trying to reduce overall use of fossil fuels, as far and as fast as possible, not “pay” for using them and carry on doing so.

@dianaw there’s definitely a lot of uncertainty when it comes to carbon offsetting, which is one reason why we pushed for green gas first. Carbon offsetting is only worth doing if you’re actively reducing carbon use elsewhere that wouldn’t be reduced without our support.

There are a lot of carbon offsetting organisations out there, but unless we can see a tangible impact it doesn’t seem worthwhile. On the flip side, if we can work with an organisation that can prove real positive effects of their efforts then that would be great.

@dianow. I agree offsetting should not be used as excuse not to use green gas and that we should be moving to biomethane as soon as practical. However, as it’s not currently possible to have a plan with a higher percentage of biomethane, it’s improving on the 90% carbon polluting plan currently in place (Bulb is not really that different from its competitors in that respect).

Hi @goldendel et al, just a quick follow up on our carbon offsetting meeting today, as promised.

We had a chat with one carbon offsetting group today. Early stages, but they seemed promising, so we’ve scheduled more talks with them, but we’re also keeping an open mind and are looking to see if there’s anyone else worth talking to. The key thing we’re looking for is impact. Are we actually saving carbon, because as mentioned above, carbon offsetting can be a bit wooly if not done correctly.

On that note, has anyone seen a carbon offsetting project that really impressed them? There’s a lot of scope to do more than just cutting greenhouse gases. There are projects out there that help people in poorer countries get access to clean and reliable power. Or revitalise woodland areas. All potentially good stuff.

Hello @will. Firstly, thank you for responding when you said you would. I was waiting for your response before making my switching decision. That already sets you a cut above in my experience

@goldendel you’re very welcome. Glad I could help. Shout if there’s anything else you need.

Oh, that is soo annoying @will! I wrote a really long and helpful response and now it’s gone in my phone :frowning: Is there an auto save or drafts function in the community forum? Tim

Yep head to https://community.bulb.co.uk/drafts and it should be there. It might not have saved if you weren’t in signal while writing it though.

Hi @will. Thank you for trying I retrieve the text through drafts. Unfortunately, I had no signal and there was nothing in there. Let’s try again (writing offline with a keyboard this time

I agree Carbon offset programs can vary quite considerably from plans which simply buy cheap land to prevent existing trees being cut down to “gold standard” vcs accredited schemes. None are perfect. I’ve tried a couple in the past: greenfleet in Australia which does simple tree plantation for carbon sequestration and more recently the Eden Climate Fund which does a combination of tree plantation to offset carbon pollution and education in developing countries to help stop pollution before it starts. Another is climatecare which has a variety of schemes in the UK and throughout the world. It’s also classified as a B Corp, much like Bulb. There is certainly no shortage of UK schemes!

Whichever Bulb chooses, I think it needs to be done independently with an objective assessment of how much impact is being made. I think Bulb needs to be clear in what it is trying to achieve so that it can sell those benefits to its customers and avoid any misunderstanding of what needs to be delivered by its suppliers. Any scheme needs to be able to measure the carbon being offset and demonstrate clearly how the offset is achieving the desired results.

For me, Carbon offsetting is about just that. It is not about creating more clean energy. It’s about offsetting the additional carbon pollution we are producing until we can move to 100% biomethane. It should always be a short term fix until 100% biomethane is available in the mainstream. However, even when 100% biomethane is available, it will not be 100% carbon neutral, so there will still be a smaller role for offsetting.

I’ve kicked off my switch to Bulb and I’m watching with keen interest how this develops (and willing to help shape the outcome if needed). Tim

Hi, where did this discussion land in the end? Has bulb started carbon offsetting? If yes, I’ll sign up with Bulb today.

Hi @joenh31 we did have discussions with carbon offsetting and it was strongly considered. We ultimately decided though that sourcing our energy from green sources is a higher priority. That way we are tackiling the problem at the source. Rather than offsetting the energy demand of our customers against trees that will remain standing for an ultimately uncertain number of years. Which is why we offer 100% renewable electricity and 10% renewable gas for all our customers.

Thanks Andy, so is it a choice between carbon offsetting plus less renewable gas vs no carbon offsetting and more renewables in order to deliver a competitive tariff to customers? Or is it that you dont think carbon offsetting is a good idea?
If it’s the former, would you consider offering customers the option to carbon offset - say put up a link to a couple of schemes you have vetted and a formula for calculating the rate of offsetting needed, or a box to tick if customers want to when they sign up? Or given you are big on referral discounts, an option to have that put in to offsetting projects?

If the latter, I recognise there are issues and limitations to carbon offsetting, but when managed well the social and environmental outcomes can be pretty good.