What is the Importance of Carbon Offsets?
June 9, 2015.
What are carbon offsets?
A carbon offset compensates for greenhouse gas emissions by providing critical funding for projects which absorb, reduce, or avoid the release of carbon dioxide elsewhere. Examples of projects which are supported by carbon offsets include: wind farms, reforestation initiatives, and methane capture at animal farms.
Although recycling, forgoing bottled water, and using energy-efficient bulbs are common and simple ways to maintain a greener lifestyle, for individuals or businesses looking to take further action, or compensate for emissions they can’t practically reduce, carbon offsets are an impactful mechanism to consider.
Carbon offsets provide real reductions in total GHG emissions
In order for companies to function with today’s energy mix, carbon emissions are inevitable – employees must commute, products must be shipped, and office buildings must have heat and electricity, the majority of which is generated by fossil fuels. While many improvements can and should be made to maximize sustainability, even the greenest organizations cannot completely discontinue all carbon emitting activities, and that’s where carbon offsets come in.
Purchasing carbon offsets allows groups to compensate for the release of pollutants and limit the overall level of GHG’s in the atmosphere. Carbon offsets make a genuine impact; offsetting one ton of carbon means there is one less ton of carbon in the atmosphere than there would have been otherwise.
Scientific data provides us with numerical evidence of the impact of offsets as well; for instance, in 2008 about 123.4 million metric tons of CO2 were reduced as the result of $705 million worth of carbon offsets purchases within the voluntary market alone!
Carbon offsets are an important tool for a greener economy
Although there are few state mandated emissions caps or regulations, where they exist they are important. The majority of purchased carbon offsets stems from businesses attempting to comply with imposed economic regulations. For example, cap and trade programs, which aim to reduce emissions by imposing limits upon companies’ GHG outputs, drive firms to purchase offsets in order to ensure that their overall emission levels are within the permitted range.
Though the health of our environment cannot be assigned any exact monetary value, the purchase of carbon offsets allows us to acknowledge within our economic system the significance and value of the environment. Offsets therefore represent an important link between economic considerations and environmental protection.
Another important and positive element of carbon offsets is their accessibility. Individuals, universities, and businesses alike all have the ability to purchase offsets, an attribute which enables their prevalence and encourages sustainability.
Carbon offsets at ClimateStore:
We, here at ClimateStore, use carbon offsets purchased through CarbonFund.org. These offsets cover our entire operational carbon footprint, including office energy use, employee travel, and product delivery. Not only are they a great tool for sustainably minded businesses like ours, but they also provide remarkable environmental and social benefits by protecting the natural world and creating new jobs.