October 10, 2016

Alkira Carbon Plan

In an effort to minimize carbon emissions, Alkira will be going carbon negative from September 2016. This will be achieved by reducing emissions as much as possible and offsetting twice the amount of our current footprint.

The outlook for climate change is extremely scary and it is clear that governments have not yet been able to impose the type of carbon tax needed to decrease emissions. This means that those with the capability will need to do much more than being carbon neutral, in order to compensate for those that are not able to reduce their footprint at this stage.

Estimated Carbon Footprint

Assuming current staff levels, the historical level of business travel, and a number of other variables, the estimated yearly carbon footprint1 for Alkira is shown below:

Estimates for small businesses are typically in the range of 3 tonnes of CO2-equivalent per employee per year. The biggest contributor to Alkira’s carbon footprint is flight travel within Europe and between Europe and Dubai. This represents about 75% of total carbon emissions. These travel requirements mean that our total carbon emissions are roughly double those of a firm engaged in professional services locally.

Carbon Reduction

Stopping all business travel is obviously not feasible, as this would stop the business too. The outlook for electric planes is promising (e.g. Solar Impulse, Nasa X-57) but it will probably be at least 10 years before that becomes a mainstream possibility.

The majority of Alkira business travel is with Emirates airlines. Emirates has one of the lowest emissions fleets in the world, with an average age of just over 6 years compared to a global average of 14 years. When sitting at the back of the plane, we can take some comfort that the carbon footprints of business class and first class are three-times and nine-times higher than economy class.

Realistically, that leaves reducing / optimizing flight travel as much as possible, which we will be assessing over the coming months. There are some existing and emerging technology options that can be an alternative to business travel, but nothing yet equals physical presence.

Some additional tips on reducing carbon emissions can be found here and more suggestions are welcome in this area. Probably one of the biggest impacts that Alkira can have, is through the technology design of the projects we engage in: by identifying, proposing and implementing technologies that will measure and reduce carbon emissions, and offer longer term solutions to the problems of climate change.

Carbon Offset

Based on an estimated annual carbon footprint of 30 tonnes of CO2e per year, Alkira will offset 60 tonnes of CO2 for the next 12 months through Climate Friendly. This will account for any discrepancy in the estimates and ensure that we have a positive contribution to carbon reduction beyond our own footprint.

Climate Friendly is ranked in the top 3 carbon offset retailers worldwide by Environmental Finance Rankings 2015, and is certified by the non-profit B Lab to meet rigorous standards of social and environmental performance, accountability, and transparency. Climate Friendly currently supplies Verified Emission Reductions (VERs) issued under the Verified Carbon Standard and Gold Standard, which can be used to offset all types of greenhouse gas emissions. To be verified, the projects must be real, ‘additional’ to business-as-usual, and not create negative social or environmental impacts. They also ensure that the emissions reductions have been accurately quantified, are permanent and have been associated with unique traceable credits. Projects span wind, solar, small hydro and sustainable biomass across Asia, Europe and the Pacific region.

Carbon offsets are not a complete solution; however they have two positive impacts. Firstly, they put a price on carbon emissions for Alkira, which will lead to further thinking on how to reduce them. Secondly the projects that they fund such as renewable energy, reforestation and energy efficiency, if properly verified, do reduce global carbon emissions. We will continually assess this solution, in order to identify better, more direct ways that we could have an impact in future.


1. There is a pretty wide variation between different calculators, especially for flights. The ICAO calculator was used for flights as it provided the most comprehensive methodology. For the other categories, Climate Care was the primary source and it was compared with Carbon Neutral.