Nature-based projects protect or restore natural ecosystems like forests so that they are able to capture more CO2 emissions from the atmosphere

The vegetation that covers around a third of the world’s surface is vital to sustaining the planet's natural balance. It supports wildlife systems and helps maintain a healthy atmosphere by taking in carbon dioxide (CO2) and releasing oxygen.

Yet it is under threat: from human activities, such as clearing woodland for farming and illegal logging, as well as from climate change.

Nature-based solutions, or natural climate solutions, are projects which protect, transform or restore these natural ecosystems so that nature can absorb more CO2 emissions from the atmosphere.

Nature-based solutions activities can also lead to the creation of ‘carbon credits’ where each credit represents the avoidance or removal of greenhouse gases equivalent to one tonne of CO2. These carbon credits can then be marketed, traded and bought as a way to help compensate for emissions.

But these projects can also have extra benefits such as offering alternative sources of income to local communities, improving soil productivity, cleaning air and water, and maintaining biodiversity.

Top 5 questions about carbon offsetting

Nature-based projects

Shell's approach to nature-based solutions

Shell recognises the need to limit global carbon dioxide emissions. Our response includes improving the energy efficiency of our own operations, generating electricity from renewable sources like solar and wind, selling more, cleaner-burning natural gas instead of oil or coal and providing lower-carbon fuel options such as hydrogen or electric-vehicle charging points.

Shell also recognise the role that nature-based solutions can play in the future of our planet and, between 2019 and 2021, we plan to invest up to $300 million in nature-based solutions projects across the globe.

We are investing in a mixture of projects, some of which generate carbon credits today, some of which will generate carbon credits in the future and some of which will not generate carbon credits at all but will enable carbon storage.

In the UK, Shell sources carbon credits from a number of places, including the Overkirkhope Project in the Scottish borders and the Longwood Project in Cumbria, both woodland creation projects verified to the UK Woodland Carbon Code. Shell has also recently partnered with Forestry and Land Scotland.

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No single solution

Nature-based solutions sometimes get a bit of bad press: aren’t they just encouraging people to carry on producing carbon dioxide or to drive guilt free?

At Shell, we are clear that offsetting CO2 emissions through the right nature-based solutions projects has a legitimate role to play in tackling climate change. Our aim is that the schemes we invest in meet stringent quality standards, meaning they are genuinely benefitting the environment as well as local communities.

But we are also clear that offsetting in this way is only part of the solution to reducing CO2 emissions. Where possible, we all need to avoid producing CO2 emissions altogether or choose solutions that help us to reduce them.

For example, Shell already offers drivers a range of ways to lower their emissions: from providing charging for electric vehicles, to offering hydrogen as a fuel at Shell service stations, to providing guidance on efficient driving.

Where emissions cannot be avoided, nature-based solutions are an option that can be used to compensate for them.

Read more about carbon offsetting in hard to decarbonise sectors on the Shell’s Powering Progress Together Hub with BusinessGreen

Forestry and Land Scotland

Forestry and Land Scotland manage and protect 640,000 hectares of Scotland’s national forest estate on behalf of the Scottish government. That is equivalent to 25 times the size of Edinburgh. The estate, which makes up approximately 9% of Scotland’s total land area, is able to absorb around 3 million tonnes of CO2 each year.

The forest is also home to hundreds of species of animals and provides jobs for 11,000 people who work in and around it.

In 2019, Shell started working with the Forestry and Land Scotland team to establish around a million trees across the forest estate over the course of five years. This activity will ultimately generate carbon credits for Shell and will form part of our global trading portfolio.

Shell also supports several nature-based solutions projects outside the UK. For more details, please visit our global website.

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carbon off setting

Get involved

From October 17, 2019 Shell customers in the United Kingdom with a Shell Go+ account can choose to ‘drive carbon neutral’ through the use of carbon offsetting.

This is possible at no extra cost to customers: any fuel purchase made through the Shell Go+ rewards scheme will automatically be offset by Shell on behalf of the customer using nature-based solutions.

To find out more about the programme or to sign up for Shell Go+, please visit the Shell Go+ website.

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