So what does carbon offset really means? And why has this become such a popular tool when it comes to decreasing greenhouse gas emissions? Let’s look into the concept to understand better what it means and how it is used.
Carbon offset – the definition
First things first. Carbon offset is not a new concept. But in the last couple of years, it has become an increasingly popular way of taking responsibility for one’s emissions.
First, you calculate how much CO2 you want to neutralize. It might be the emissions for a flight, for example. Then you buy “offset” for that amount of CO2, meaning you pay to decrease or omit those emissions elsewhere.
So instead of making changes that would decrease your own emissions, you pay to reduce emissions elsewhere, where it may be cheaper to make such reductions. There are currently many projects all over the world to reduce CO2 emissions. People and organizations buying carbon offset finance these projects.
Is carbon offsetting good or bad?
There have been many discussions about this topic. There have also been quite a few scandals around the actual offset projects. Some have been mismanaged, others are not efficient as carbon sinks, and some have even destroyed local environments.
And is carbon offset good for the climate? Some say yes, as we are then decreasing emissions where it makes the most economic sense. Others say no, as the phenomenon makes it seem ok to continue with the emissions here, where we, in fact, need to rapidly decrease them everywhere.
So what should we then think of carbon offsetting? Our stance, and many with us, is to reduce all the emissions we possibly can ourselves. It seems reasonable to buy it for the emissions that are still left — but from certified and monitored carbon offset projects.
We need to change our behaviors to decrease emissions as rapidly as possible, and carbon offset shouldn’t be a way to avoid or even postpone that vital work. But there’s more — when you make those necessary reductions, you’ll see that often you also end up saving some money!
Good for you and good for the planet!
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