What is a carbon offset?
I would first like to say, that carbon offsetting is not the answer to everything. Our first action should always be to reduce our carbon footprint and our emissions. However, there will always be some emissions we can not get rid of as that is part of living and society! Therefore, we do need carbon offsetting to offset the carbon emissions caused by these activities to be net zero.
A Carbon offset is a way to compensate for your emissions by funding an equivalent carbon dioxide saving somewhere else.
You can offset any activity, whether it's businesses offsetting their emissions, to everyday people offsetting flying. Carbon offsetting is used to balance out these emissions by helping to pay for emission savings in other parts of the world. You can fund carbon reduction programmes regardless however too.
Usually, you buy carbon credits. A carbon credit is a tradable certificate or a permit which represents the right to emit one tonne of carbon dioxide or carbon dioxide equivalent. Carbon credits are awarded to carbon offset projects depending on the amount of carbon dioxide they absorb or avoid. Therefore if you buy carbon credits this is what you are funding.
Carbon credits and carbon offset projects are verified by a few different organisations, these include the Verified Carbon Standard (VCS), Gold Standard Voluntary Emission Reductions (VER) and Certified Emission Reductions (CER). They make sure the projects meet the Quality Assurance Standard for Carbon Offsetting following a footprint calculation on this web site and BSI's PAS 2060 specification on carbon neutrality.
Examples of carbon offsetting projects include tree planting and avoided deforestation projects, energy efficiency projects, renewable energy project such as wind power or solar power and the capture of some types of industrial gases. Many carbon offsetting projects also provide wider benefits in addition to carbon reduction, such as biodiversity, education, jobs, food security and heath & well-being in developing countries.
At Carbon Choice, we will offset every product bought through our site by funding carbon removal projects.