Friday, January 7, 2011

So what is a carbon offset, exactly

A carbon offset is a certification that one metric ton of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) has been reduced from the atmosphere, to compensate for an emission made elsewhere. Offsets are created by clean-tech or sustainability projects whose programs, whether they address creation of alternative energy forms, waste capture and recycling, or sustainable agriculture, have verified emissions reduction components.
Example: A project installs solar panels on the roofs of remote subsistence farms in the desert, which previously ran on GHG emitting. diesel-powered generators. As sunlight is in extreme abundance, households with solar panels don’t need to use their generators, which not only saves them money, but also contributes to a significant reduction of their emissions. Third parties review and calculate the amount of carbon dioxide emissions eliminated with each solar panel installation, as they are not longer using diesel-powered generators, and for each ton measured, an equivalent amount of offset credits are created.

Why Can't I Just buy a hybrid?

You should take whatever actions you can to reduce your own emissions - buy a fuel efficient car, install solar panels, eat local produce, and cut back on flying. These activities are important and certainly help reduce your footprint. However, in today’s world, it is impossible to live carbon neutral without supporting offset projects.
The most effective way to combat climate change is to reduce your own emissions as much as possible with behavioral changes and offsetting what remains with carbon offset credits. 

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