What are Carbon Offsets?

Carbon Offsets

What are Carbon Offsets?

Our society is inextricably tied to carbon-producing technology. Carbon neutrality is certainly a worthy goal, but it’s incredibly hard to reach without some help along the way. While it all begins with reduction, that only goes so far toward reaching neutrality. When reduction techniques reach their limit, carbon offsets help businesses and organizations continue to green up their efforts. What are they, though?

Carbon offsets are really just steps that help to reduce the carbon in the atmosphere by as much as a company or organization emits. For instance, let’s say that your organization has reduced its carbon footprint significantly, but you’re still pumping out greenhouse gases (an inescapable part of modern life). To offset that output, you can do several things. You can purchase carbon credits from companies doing more than you are able to in order to compensate for your emissions. For instance, a company that’s completely off the grid thanks to renewable energy can sell carbon credits as offsets for those who can’t cut ties with the grid. Other methods see the money you paid for those credits spent on updating power plants, or mitigating deforestation in the Amazon.

There are plenty of other carbon offsets possible as well. For example, your business might choose to plant trees – trees trap carbon in their leaves, trunk and roots, and bury it in the ground. By planting trees, you begin to offset your carbon footprint now, but you also invest in a greener future, as those trees will continue to lock away carbon throughout their lifespans.

It’s important to understand that carbon offsets should not be used if you’re not reducing your carbon footprint in other ways as well. Creating a healthier, more beautiful planet requires a concerted effort, and purchasing credits from sustainable companies is only one step along the path.


Photo by Jason Blackeye on Unsplash

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