Feb 27, 2019 - Energy & Environment

E-commerce company Etsy to offset C02 shipping emissions

Etsy is offsetting all of its carbon dioxide emissions from shipping at an annual cost of less than $1 million, the company is announcing today.

The big picture: The e-commerce company is the latest in corporate America to ramp up action on climate change in response to the public’s growing awareness on the issue and President Trump’s dismissal of it.

The details: The company is investing in clean-energy and environmental restoration with three projects around the world that it says offsets (compensates for) its shipping emissions.

  1. Preserving a forest in Minnesota
  2. Subsidizing wind and solar energy in India
  3. Subsidizing the use of cleaner, alternative chemicals in the auto industry
“The initial thinking was that we would create an option at checkout that allows buyers to choose to offset the cost of shipping a package. When I saw it was less than a penny per package, why on Earth would we add a checkbox, why don’t we just do it.”
— Josh Silverman, Etsy CEO in Axios interview

But, but, but: The effectiveness of this type of policy, called carbon offsetting, is disputed for a few reasons. Whether the aforementioned projects are reliant on the related investment or would have happened otherwise is up for debate, though Silverman says his company is ensuring they fit the bill for genuine offsets.

  • “We don’t have 20 years. We need to move now,” said Silverman, arguing that implementing an offsetting policy is quicker than trying to reduce its supply chain emissions, which it doesn’t directly control.

What’s next: Etsy, which already has a 100% renewable-electricity goal it’s expected to meet by 2020, is offsetting the entire U.S. package-shipping industry’s emissions Thursday, at a cost Silverman says is less than $100,000, to raise awareness on the issue.

Go deeper: Taking a different route, Amazon announced earlier this month its plans to make half of all its shipments carbon-neutral within 11 years by urging suppliers to make greener packaging and investing in renewable energy, per the AP.

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