Our use of carbon credits

For over a decade, we have been addressing climate change through, for example, our continuous work to improve energy efficiency in Elisa’s operations. To further accelerate society’s climate transition, since 2020, we have been using  carbon credits for climate change mitigation beyond our value chain. Our long-term target is to reduce Elisa’s carbon emissions toward net-zero, which will also include our value chain stakeholders.

Greenhouse gases (GHGs) do not recognise borders, as they become evenly distributed throughout the atmosphere. Therefore, we can mitigate climate change both by reducing the production of GHGs and by sequestering carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, including in regions other than those where we operate.

We prioritise abatement within our value chain on Elisa’s journey to net-zero, and therefore we are continuously investigating ways to reduce carbon emissions together with various stakeholders. We are currently focused on our near-term target for 2030 of a 42% reduction in all scopes of emissions, for which we will not use carbon credits. According to the guidelines from the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi), we can permanently neutralise remaining emissions to reach net-zero in 2040, when our long-term science-based target of a 90% reduction in all scopes of missions is achieved. This means that at most 10% of carbon emissions at that point will be covered by carbon removal.

In addition to climate actions within our value chain, it is possible to acquire carbon credits to take voluntary climate action. One carbon credit is equivalent to one tonne of carbon dioxide. This way of mitigating carbon emissions has often been referred to as carbon compensation or carbon offsetting, or more recently as beyond value chain mitigation. It is a way to invest in additional mitigation actions beyond our near- and long-term science-based targets.

Elisa has adopted the practice of beyond value chain mitigation already since 2020, with the scope of acquiring carbon credits in an amount equal to remaining emissions in our own operations, meaning from fuels (Scope 1), a small portion of other energy usage (Scope 2), as well as from waste and from business travel and employee commuting, including remote working (Scope 3). Beyond value chain mitigation thus comprises a valuable aspect in building the sustainable services offering that Elisa provides to its customers.

We regularly revise our carbon credit strategy, as best practices have proved to evolve over time. In this context, we also want to promote climate-friendly innovation, for example through new types of projects or with partners in our main consumer and corporate customer markets.

Elisa’s carbon credit portfolio

Over time, Elisa has built a carbon credit portfolio with a variety of high-quality projects of different types and on different continents. As part of our beyond value chain mitigation efforts, we are continuously developing the quality of Elisa’s carbon credit portfolio. Our selected projects also have co-benefits for people and nature. 

The structure and use of Elisa’s evolving carbon credit portfolio is described below:

Reforestation project, Colombia


This is a Gold Standard reforestation project in Colombia’s Orinoco region. The goal is to raise high-quality deciduous forest in a previously deforested area. These trees sequester carbon while stabilising the environment ecologically, economically and socially. The goal of the project is to support the creation of a viable production and protection system, and at the same time to create jobs.

Decarbonisation project, Finland


The Puro.earth marketplace project sustainably produces high-quality biochar from spruce forest thinning operations, for use for example as an additive in plantings or for water filtration at landfill sites.

Forest protection project, Indonesia


The project protects the Rimba Raya area in south-eastern Borneo, Indonesia from deforestation. For decades, Borneo has been suffering from deforestation, and its remaining rainforests are threatened with disappearance due to logging (including illegal logging), mineral mining and palm oil production. The reserve covers 64,000 hectares and provides a habitat for hundreds of species, including the endangered Bornean orangutan.

Borneo's peat bog forests contain 70 times more carbon than the combined annual CO2 emissions from fossil fuel use on the planet, meaning that protecting their carbon sinks is crucial to preventing climate change. At the same time, the project will safeguard the conservation of the very rich biodiversity of the protected area.

Forest protection project, Cambodia


This project under the UN REDD+ programme protects an important part of Cambodia’s Cardamom rainforest so that it can continue to serve as a significant carbon sink. The area is one of the 200 most important biodiversity protection targets in the world, home to animals such as the sun bear, clouded leopard and Siamese crocodile. The project also produces significant benefits for society in the region through new, sustainable livelihood opportunities. By stepping up monitoring in the region, pressure on the environment will be reduced, while also significantly increasing wellbeing in the area.

Energy efficiency project, Zambia


Supplying solar cookers to the village of Chiyumu in the Monze region of Zambia eliminates the need for firewood in cooking. The families who use them see other benefits as well: the children are not late for school because they had to collect firewood in the morning, and this also free up time for the mother of the family for other tasks. In the evening, the families get electric light through the stove battery, and there is no need to buy fuel for a smoky oil lamp. Additionally, the family’s can charge their phones using the stove, saving them from travelling potentially tens of kilometres to charging locations. Severe deforestation dominates the village region, so the families participate in planting new trees as part of the solar cooker project. Overall, this solution reduces the need for families to move from their villages to the big cities.

Energy efficiency project, Uganda


This Gold Standard project in Uganda for improved cookstoves reduces greenhouse gas emissions and also promotes the UN Sustainable Development Goals. By acquiring better stoves for Ugandan families, we help them to reduce the amount of wood they need for fuel, and thereby reduce local deforestation. At the same time, we are indirectly improving the position of women and children and reducing the prevalence of chronic breathing disorders among the poorer members of society.

Other innovative projects for beyond value chain mitigation at Elisa:

Reforestation projects, Indonesia and Philippines


Mangrove forests not only bind carbon, but also strengthen local biodiversity and protect against tsunamis. Local communities plant the indigenous mangrove trees (Rhizophora mangle), which provide homes for different species of birds, as well as feeding and breeding grounds for a variety of fish and reptiles. On the Indonesian island of Natuna, they are helping the kekah monkey, an endangered species that exists only on this island. The planted mangrove trees are transparently documented on an online map, which gives a broader perspective on the impact and connects communities and businesses to work together.


What is carbon compensation or offsetting, and how does it work?

In practice, carbon compensation, or offsetting, means that a company supports climate-positive actions outside its own value chain, to the extent of the carbon emissions that it cannot immediately reduce itself. Carbon compensation generally means that a company acquires carbon credits. They do this, for example, by supporting reforestation projects in developing countries. The Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi) now recommends using the term “beyond value chain mitigation” instead of “compensation” or “offsetting”.

Why does Elisa use carbon credits?

Elisa’s primary objective has been to identify its own carbon emissions and look for means to mitigate them. We have therefore been carrying out, for example, strategic energy efficiency actions since 2009. Given that we cannot eliminate all emissions generated by our operations, since 2020, we have followed the practice of beyond value chain mitigation, with the scope of acquiring carbon credits in an amount equal to the remaining emissions from our own operations. 

Are the carbon credits paid for by Elisa’s customers?

Elisa’s investment in carbon credits is our voluntary climate action, the costs of which are not collected from customers in the form of voluntary payments, for example. Nor do the costs have a direct impact on products or services.

Are Elisa’s services carbon neutral?

Since 202, we have been acquiring carbon credits in an amount equal to the remaining emissions from Elisa’s own operations, meaning from fuels (Scope 1), a small portion of other energy usage (Scope 2), from waste, as well as from business travel and employee commuting, including remote working (Scope 3). We refer this as being “carbon neutral in services by our own operations”, while noting that it is not a target validated by the SBTi. Beyond value chain mitigation through carbon credits complements our other carbon emission reduction activities within Elisa’s value chain, and in this way continues to serve Elisa’s customers and society.

How can I be sure of the climate benefits of carbon credits?

Elisa uses carbon credit quality validations by standards bodies like Gold Standard and VCS to lessen risks in the supply-side quality of carbon credits. We follow developments in methodologies that complement the work of these standards bodies. We transparently retire the carbon credits used by Elisa so that they can no longer be resold. Acquired carbon credits and their climate and other benefits are communicated in an understandable way on a regular and transparent basis.

How does Elisa choose carbon credit projects? 

We choose carbon credit projects for Elisa that are of high quality, verified by standards bodies and in line with the UN Sustainable Development Goals. The mitigation effect is new and additional, and it would not arise without these projects.

We welcome and actively engage in dialogue with providers and other experts or stakeholders, in order to continuously develop Elisa’s carbon credit approach and portfolio.

Elisa has so far collaborated on beyond value chain carbon credits mitigation projects with Nordic Offset, South Pole, Afstor and TreebuddyEarth.