A carbon credit offset is a reduction in emissions of carbon dioxide or other greenhouse gases made in order to compensate for emissions made elsewhere.
For example, an individual might purchase carbon offsets to compensate for the greenhouse gas emissions caused by personal air travel.
Purchasing Carbon Credit Offset Certificates allows individuals and companies to invest in projects that remove carbon in order to balance out their own carbon footprints.
Projects should be legitimate and offer the buyer good value for money. There are projects which have been authenticated by third-party certification programs, such as Verified Carbon Standard, Gold Standard, and the Green-e Climate Standard. They support a range of carbon reducing projects.
When you can’t reduce your own carbon emissions to zero you can instead fund projects elsewhere in the world. This means that you are reducing your impact on the environment.
When you buy Carbon Offsets you are investing in carbon mitigating projects such as planting trees.
Companies and individuals still need to be working on reducing their carbon footprint. However there is a point that they reach when it is almost impossible or very expensive to reduce their carbon emissions to zero.
It is a much better use of the money to invest in carbon abatement projects.
Even if a project actually exists, offsets have the potential to go wrong in other ways. Say you’re promised that your purchase will help pay for a new wind farm, but then you learn that the wind farm was going to be built even without the help of offsets. You’d feel cheated, and rightly so. To truly compensate for your pollution, any offset project must be in addition to the normal course of business.
There are projects of less quality in terms of transparency. For example providing funding for schemes in developing counties where corruption is rife. And some carbon-offset projects are scams. In one notorious case, a Hungarian company, KlimaFa, produced offset certificates for millions of trees that were never planted.
A quality carbon abatement scheme should be transparent and real. There are quality projects such as tree planting where the results are real and measurable. These are the types of projects which are supported by the Climate Change Institute.