In February, the global management consulting firm Bain & Co. became the first company to earn Platinum carbon neutral certification under the Voluntary Carbon Market Initiative’s Claims Code of Practice. They did so by purchasing and retiring 132,800 high quality carbon credits, including those held by the Fund.

 Platinum certification requires a company to offset at least 100% of its residual emissions from all sources, using high quality carbon credits.  Bain’s disclosures show the firm retired a diverse mix of carbon credit project types, geographies and Paris-era (post-2016) vintages to deliver on the offset component of its climate plan, and demonstrate that ambitious, high-quality offsetting is achievable & affordable now.  We expect Bain’s peer companies in consulting – and like-minded firms in banking and finance – to follow Bain’s lead in 2024.

Following the announcement by VCMI that Bain had become the first business to achieve Platinum decarbonisation status, the Carbon Growth Partners team looked at how they got there. The results make for enlightening – and encouraging – reading.  Here’s why we think Bain have done a great job and have created a template for other companies to follow:

  • Comprehensive plan: Bain’s offset program is a part of a larger decarbonisation effort that is aligned with 1.5C of warming.
  • Affordable ambition: According to analysis from the CGP team, the value of credits retired by Bain in its most recent reporting period was around $1.94 million, with an average price per credit of $14.75. Those are not all the most expensive credits, but not the cheapest either, and the spend equates to a spend of $105.22 for each person employed by the company.
  • Complete transparency: Bain’s disclosures include the granular specifics of their offset program, down to the serial numbers of carbon credits retired.
  • Paris-era vintages: Credits retired were evenly spread across Paris-Era vintages (2016 onwards). On vintages, newer does not equal better, but offsets for contemporaneous emissions should be from 2016 onwards.
  • Geographic diversity: Credits were retired from Bain’s main commercial market (the US) and from a range of developing and least developed countries.
  • Project type diversity: while all credits retired were nature-based, they span a mix of blue carbon, terrestrial reforestation, improved forest management and a small volume of enhanced weathering credits. Bain chose all removals; in our view this is not necessary, but if you can afford to do so, go for it.
  • Credible standards: 99.95% of credits were from accredited registries, with Verra leading the way at 60.5% of credits retired.

Bain’s approach is a template for other finance-, services- and human capital-based businesses to follow, and when combined with larger volume demand at typically lower prices from oil and gas, aviation and mining, the stage is being set for a comprehensive demand profile that covers the suite of available supply and price points.

As Apple’s Tim Cook said late last year at the launch of the carbon neutral Apple Watch: “The planet can’t wait, and neither will we”.