Carbon offsetting

Carbon offsetting is the concept of counteracting actions you take which emit greenhouse gases, by investing in a scheme which reduces the global carbon footprint such as tree planting or clean energy solutions. It assumes that the impact of an activity can be calculated and a cost put on that activity. This cost is based on carbon pricing. One can pay to offset anything from an individual flight to a whole year’s worth of emissions.

Products and purchases which are marketed as ‘carbon neutral’ are likely to have included carbon offsetting within the price.

There is a great deal of controversy around carbon offsetting, with some viewing it as a way for the wealthy to feel better about their carbon footprint, whilst continuing consuming and behaving in unsustainable ways. Because they don’t actually reduce the greenhouse gases entering the atmosphere. And by simply investing in more environmentally-friendly projects some of the schemes will have a limited lifespan, Others see them as an additional tool in the effort to reduce emissions, to be used alongside behaviour change and other actions.

Useful links

‘A complete guide to carbon offsetting’ – The Guardian

‘Does carbon offsetting work?’ – Friends of the Earth

The biggest problem with carbon offsetting is that it doesn’t really work – Greenpeace

Carbon offsets – Circular Ecology

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