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'Heroes of Net Zero' Follow Us

Rewilding versus global standards for Net Zero


Sir David Attenborough’s moving speech to the UN Climate Change conference (COP26) was a triumph of visual oratory that reminds us why he is a global legend.

He doesn’t mention trees directly but the video wall graphically showed the destruction of forests and habitats.

Sir David said: “Nature is a key ally. Wherever we restore the wild, it will recapture carbon and help us bring back balance.”

AES Engineering has committed to investing £29 million by 2029 on environmentally friendly projects. Part of that is investing in solar panels and energy saving technologies wherever we have a major operation. A large proportion has been earmarked for carbon-offsetting projects such as solar farms and forestry.

However, we cannot find a single carbon offsetting scheme in the whole world offering carbon credits for trees.

You may set up a Gold Standard Scheme to plant trees with the United Nations and sell the credits, but when a company like ours, which has an international base, wants to plant trees to offset its Scope 1 and Scope 2 emissions, there is no such scheme.

If we are wrong, please come and talk to us.

AES Engineering Ltd is writing its own scheme, which we hope to have certified by BSI. It is a fact that a tree absorbs 20 kg of CO2 in 1 year, therefore 50 trees absorbs 1 tonne of CO2 in a year. As engineers it looks to us like trees are the first and best carbon sequestration ‘technology’.

But, while The Woodland Trust  encourages farmers to plant trees in the UK and you can sell those carbon credits at auction, this will not allow us to offset any of our Scope 1 and Scope 2 emissions for any other country except the UK.

The current message to industry appears to be that trees have no CO2 value. It’s a classic ‘Catch-22’ - we need you to plant trees but are going to discourage you from planting trees.

We understand that legislators, politicians and standards bodies cannot be agile. That is no excuse for our little business to wait to do the right thing. Tree ownership and especially planting is a part of our £29 million by 2029 ( plan for environmental projects.

We will allow those in charge to agree or disagree with our decisions later as we sometimes think humans spend too much time criticising and it would be hypocritical if we used a lack of clarity on the subject to prevent action. 

We are currently installing £600,000 worth of solar panels to replace the green energy that we already buy, even though this will do nothing to reduce our CO2e calculation.

Trees, it seems, when we plant them or care for them will also have no impact on our CO2e calculation under current rules.

But they will still save the planet and they are far nicer than solar panels.


Written by Chris Rea, Group Managing Director, CBE, DL, BSc, CEng, HonFIMechE.
Follow Chris on Linkedin 


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