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Nike Benches Carbon Offsets, Looks to Score with Teleconferencing

Mary Catherine O'Connor | Thursday February 4th, 2010 | 0 Comments

Late last month, Nike released its fiscal 2007 to 2009 Corporate Responsibility (CR) report, in which it laid out its plans to move away from purchasing carbon offsets as a means of lowering the carbon footprint left by its business travel activities, reports Green Inc.

Instead, the shoe maker is investing in technology that will allow it to replace some travel with virtual meetings. “In FY09 we made a strategic decision to move away from offsets and instead focus on reducing miles flown,” says the report. Aside from reducing the carbon emissions generated through travel, the company also pointed to lowering its travel-related expenses, better employee productivity (thanks to less time spent traveling) and a better “work/life balance” for employees as other reasons for the change.

In FY10, Nike plans on increasing its investment in teleconferencing technology by 15 percent, over its FY09 spending. And in FY11, it wants to have 200 videoconferencing systems in place at Nike offices around the world.

Nike is one of many companies that are moving away from buying carbon offsets as a means of paying off their environmental dues. Yahoo said last summer that it stopped the practice. This followed the same decision by the US House of Representatives, which had spent $89,000 on offsets in 2007 and 2008.

The market for carbon offsets boomed around the middle of the last decade, but opinion started swaying in recent years and the practice of buying offsets came to be seen as analogous to “pushing the food around on your plate to create the impression that you have eaten,” as George Monbiot wrote in Heat: How to Stop the Planet from Burning.

“Rather than purchase renewable energy certificates to achieve climate neutrality, which have become increasingly controversial, we believe it is more meaningful to invest in energy efficiency and in distributed energy projects that reduce our reliance on grid energy and help stabilize energy costs for the long term,” Nike wrote in its CR report.

Aside from reducing the amount of travel that Nike employees take on, the company also plans to spend more on making its facilities and data centers more energy efficient, developing better asset recovery plans for its used IT equipment. It’s also pushing forth an ongoing program in which it works with its apparel manufacturing partners to reduce the amount of water consumed in dying and finishing fabric.

Additionally, Nike said it cut its overall greenhouse gas emissions last year, across its supply chain, to 2007 levels.

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