Should I Consider Carbon Offsetting?

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Carbon offsets aren’t a ideal solution, but they can be useful in the process of transitioning towards a transition away from fossil fuels. It is impossible for a society to turn off the lights and go away from fossil fuels in a matter of minutes. Therefore, for the time being carbon offsets play a element of the puzzle as environmentally conscious and forward-thinking players work towards an environmentally sustainable future.

In this article, we’ll examine a more in-depth look an examination of carbon offsets: what they are, the reasons they are important, arguments in favor of their benefits, and the criticisms they face.

What is Carbon Offsetting?

Carbon offset is a method that allows funds to be directed towards projects that aid in reducing global emissions. People or companies often purchase carbon offsets, instead of decreasing their carbon footprints in situations where carbon emissions are inevitable, or they use both methods to help their emissions reduction efforts increase.

Carbon offset projects can include effective stoves for cooking in villages, bio-gas generation from organic matter, and a range of initiatives aimed at reducing deforestation, or regenerating forest areas that are degraded.

The procedure of certifying a project as being eligible for carbon offsets isn’t an easy task. Carbonbay is involved in shepherding initiatives through the Byzantine regulation maze which have been established as part of the United Nations’ Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) to ensure that not just emissions reductions are legal however, there’s no existing financing that could be used for the project. It is generally a sign that the projects are different from normal business practices and have no chance of success without credits. Credits for emission reduction allow projects to be compensated for each metric ton of carbon emissions sucked up. They are able to be verified with CDM or other standards recognized by the public such as The Gold Standard, and the Verified Carbon Standard (VCS).

“Carbon offset … assists environmental projects that don’t have funds by themselves.”

Carbon Offsetting: The Pros of Carbon Offsetting

Carbon offset can be beneficial both ways through the process. It helps environmental projects that aren’t able to get financing on their own and gives businesses a greater chances to lower the carbon emissions of their operations.

There are many companies that can’t cut their carbon footprint as they’d like. In certain cases, this is due to the fact that their footprint is already very small (e.g. software companies) However, they’d like to expand their reach. Other industries, for instance, heavy equipment as well as ocean transport, do not have low-carbon alternatives to meet their needs currently. Through funding projects to reduce emissions, companies can help offset the emissions they cannot eliminate themselves.

While the majority of offset purchases are not required however, there are certain jurisdictions in which they are required to meet local regulations and standards to be able to avoid penalty. This is yet another advantage of using the offset method. It provides regulators with a means to enforce environmental regulations.

Others make use of offsets to demonstrate that the majority or all of their operations are “carbon zero” or “carbon positive.” They also provide the structure needed for these businesses to monitor their carbon footprint. The majority of people are now more comfortable doing business with companies that use offsets.

Carbon offset can be a valuable resource to projects that usually capture carbon through forest growth or other methods, or reduce emissions, like green energy production or the use of clean energy appliances. By focusing on projects which will not be able to draw other kinds of financing like a unique project in the region in which they are located and provide a viable alternative to traditional finance methods.

After a successful project is achieved by offsetting and has proven to be viable it’s usually more straightforward for similar follow-on projects to get funding from different sources.

Offsetting has been proven by reliable studies to be a successful method to cut greenhouse gas emissions.

Cons and Cons of Carbon Offsetting

A variety of criticisms have been directed at carbon offsets as well. They are often philosophical in nature in their criticism of the idea that corporations with wealth can buy their way out of the carbon market, instead of taking greater accountability for their carbon emissions. Some argue that offsets weaken the need for more drastic collective action like carbon taxes. Are offsets letting polluters get off the hook too easily?

Others point to more practical issues:

Certain forests that are protected by offsets have been later found to have been burned or cut down. It is possible that this could be intentional by the people who received the offsets.
Are the credit cards really needed and could it be completed without the credits?
Are carbon measurements reliable, and can the companies that are monitoring their accuracy be trusted to conduct an accounting that is accurate?
How do you deal with fraud?
Are global warming occurring too fast to allow carbon offsets to prove useful?

There are some pertinent questions. Although no system is perfect however, the majority of these issues have been identified and addressed when carbon standards and methods evolve.

Carbon offsets aren’t intended to replace immediate action but instead as a supplement or, in certain cases, the only possible option. For instance, the airline industry, for instance makes use of a large number of offsets because there is no feasible way for commercial aircraft to fly without using fossil fuels. In the international scheme called CORSIA the airlines will be able to stop the emission levels for 2019/2020 and have pledged to offset any increase in emissions after 2021.

Concerning forests disappearing after qualifying to offset offsets issue was addressed in the most recent VCS standard. It only allows payments to be made in the case of carbon sequestration in forests that has already taken place for example, over the last decade. To mitigate further risk, a portion of the credits paid are put aside in “pooled buffers” to help cover unexpected loss, similar to the insurance policies.

The measurement process is also changing. Projects that use renewable energy are the easiest to gauge, as you only need to check the meters. Land-use projects like forestry could be more challenging however, models are getting better and technology like GPS and satellite imagery drones have been helpful to provide a better view of how much carbon is still stored.