What is carbon offsetting and why is it important?

November 07, 2019

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All European Bolt rides are now 100% carbon neutral. This is just the first part of our Green Plan, a commitment we made to become a greener company. By supporting a number of carbon offsetting projects across the globe, we’re able to balance out the CO2 emissions of your Bolt ride, making it a greener trip for you and our planet. But what is carbon offsetting, really? Let’s find out.

So, what is carbon offsetting?

If you’re looking for a formal definition of it, you’d probably have to dig out your dictionary. If you do, you’ll find something like this:

“Carbon offsetting is a way for a company or person to reduce the level of carbon dioxide for which they are responsible by investing into a company that works to reduce the total amount produced in the world, for example by planting trees.”

But you didn’t come here to read a dictionary definition, did you?

Imagine a set of scales. You know, the old-school ones, with two sides — the ones you see in movies and in your auntie’s attic, covered in dust.

Now, imagine that on one side of the scale there’s the bad and, on the other side, there’s the good. For a perfect balance, the amount of bad and good would need to be 100% equal, right? Well, that’s exactly how carbon offsetting works.

If our planet is the scale, pollution is the bad and reducing the amount of it in the atmosphere is the good — ideally, we need to aim for a balance between those two. By becoming carbon neutral, we’re taking immediate action and doing so while bigger changes to how we live, work and travel can be developed.

What is carbon offsetting and why is it important?

Does it really work?

Isn’t it all a big hoax? Can investing in tree-planting or solar energy somewhere far from your home really help?


Here’s how…

Whilst Elon is still dreaming about flying to Mars, us mere-mortals only have one planet to live on and our environment is going through some rough changes. Temperatures are rising, ice is melting, sea levels are going up and hurricanes are tearing down homes — and it’s getting worse because we’re all adding CO2 to the atmosphere. To get completely real for a second, we’re already in a climate crisis.

So, what can we do?

Of course, there’s no golden ticket out of it — but, every action has a reaction — and now is the time to act. It starts with the simple things — buying food we actually eat, turning off the lights after leaving the room, reducing the amount of plastic we use and cleaning up after ourselves like decent human beings.

Still, there’s more that can (and should) be done.

We’re all well aware that urban transportation, and especially cars for that matter, play a role in the pollution game. We decided to take action — which is why we’ve made all European Bolt rides 100% carbon neutral. So, when choosing to ride with Bolt, you’re actually joining the green movement — and it costs you nothing extra. Zero. Zilch. Nada. This is just the first part of our long-term commitment to reduce our company’s ecological footprint.

What is Bolt’s Green Plan about?

It’s an ambitious initiative, but we aim to nail these three main goals:

  1. To neutralise Bolt’s contribution to the CO₂ emissions of the European transportation sector, with a minimum commitment of 5 million tonnes offset by 2025.
  2. To reduce CO₂ emissions by creating environmentally friendly transport options for you to move in cities, such as scooters.
  3. To offset all Bolt offices around the world in 2020.

Let’s start from the first step.

How is Bolt offsetting the CO2 emitted during rides?

To make calculations about how much needs to be offset, we used the help of a verification agency Verifavia. Both parts of the ride – the driver getting to the passenger and then the ride to the destination – were taken into account. And they’ll be keeping an eye on our emissions in the future as well, to make sure we stay on track.

To balance our CO₂ emissions, we’ll support emission reduction projects to make us carbon neutral. And of course, we’re not choosing these projects randomly or based on our gut feeling — the highly experienced Natural Capital Partners team is helping us out. They are experts in solutions for positive impact on carbon, renewable energy, biodiversity and water.

So, in short: first, we need to calculate our carbon footprint and get those calculations verified and that’s what Verifavia help us with. After that, projects are chosen, payments are made — which is where Natural Capital Partners advise us — and in the end, the footprint of our European rides becomes carbon neutral. All the projects are independently verified to assure the quality of the emissions reductions.

Which projects are we supporting?

To kick off our Green Plan, we’ve chosen to support two projects – one focusing on boosting the usage of renewable energy in India and the other one installing solar lighting systems to households in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania.

West India Wind Power

West India Wind Power

India’s population has grown rapidly over the past few decades. More people = a rising need for electricity. The saddest part is that currently only 13% of that energy is supplied by renewable sources of energy. This is where West India Wind Power comes in!

To date, the project has built 252 wind turbines, located across Jaisalmer, Rajkot and Surendranagar in India. This has helped to reduce the amount of energy drawn primarily from fossil fuel power stations, improving local air quality and avoiding the generation of solid waste. Approximately 350,000 tonnes of emission reductions are delivered by West India Wind Power project annually, helping to take urgent action in combating climate change.

Solar Energy and Mobile Payment, East Africa

M-KOPA Solar Power

Solar Energy and Mobile Payment, East Africa is tackling climate change by helping families in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania switch from high-cost kerosene to affordable and renewable solar power for covering their household’s energy needs.

Around 70% of African households earn less than 4,500 euros a year and are forced to spend money on inefficient and expensive energy sources like kerosene. Solar power helps to cut down the costs significantly and reduces the pollution created by kerosene. As of September 2019, Solar Energy and Mobile Payment, East Africa has connected over 750,000 homes to affordable solar power with 500 new homes being added every day.

UK Forest Creation

Woodland Carbon Code

In addition to the projects we support for carbon emission offsetting, we also believe in the importance of increasing biodiversity and providing green space for communities. This is why we’ve chosen to invest in planting trees that create forests in the UK through the Woodland Carbon Code.

If the UK can add 23,000 hectares per year of forest creation over the next 40 years, it is estimated that forestry could deliver up to 10% of emissions reductions by 2050, bringing a greener community space for us all.

This is just the beginning

Much like Rome, our plan won’t be built and finished in a day, but we’re well and truly on it! Step by step, ride by ride, we’re all moving towards a greener future. So, if you also wish to be a part of our journey and contribute to a greener world, all you need to do is download the Bolt app and get going!

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