This approach of buying carbon credits is not part of our enterprise decarbonization strategy, but is one way to help manage our climate impact while we work towards net-zero emissions. As of December 31, 2021, annual emissions associated with Sun Life's global operations amounted to about 18,000 tonnes of CO2 equivalent. That amount includes emissions from corporate offices, data centers and corporate travel.
Carbon offsetting allows companies and people to fund projects worldwide that prevent or remove harmful greenhouse gasses (GHGs) from the atmosphere. The GHG emission reductions achieved by these projects generate verified carbon credits. Companies and people can buy these credits and apply them against their emissions to reduce their net climate impact.
2021 marked our first concerted offset purchase. We worked with Climate Impact Partners (formerly Natural Capital Partners), a specialist in carbon market solutions for climate action, to identify suitable projects. Climate Impact Partners evaluates the sustainable development benefits of carbon finance projects through a robust, proprietary framework. In addition, Sun Life created its own framework for evaluating the quality and alignment of our carbon offsetting projects to our sustainability plan.
We selected projects based on the following considerations:
- carbon removal vs. carbon reduction and avoidance
- carbon standard
- unique claim and additionality (assurance that the project would not have occurred without climate finance through offset credit sales)
- other factors
Ultimately, we selected four projects to support, two of which are highlighted below. The resulting offsets were independently verified to leading international standards and enabled Sun Life to achieve CarbonNeutral®1 company certification2. Besides the environmental advantages, the projects we support also have social benefits and contribute to the delivery of many UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Climate change presents an urgent challenge. Carbon offsetting provides a source of funding to much-needed sustainable development initiatives around the world and can assist companies like Sun Life as they work towards net zero. However, reducing our own emissions is always the primary focus, and the path to true net zero.