The connection between climate change and greenhouse gas emissions is too apparent and dramatic to be ignored. Suppose you are asked to identify a few ways to address climate change. In that case, you could probably suggest using alternative energy sources, buying electric vehicles, buying energy-efficient appliances, reducing food waste, and eating less meat. This is included under “lowering our carbon footprint in the atmosphere.” It can be done through Carbon Neutrality. However, “carbon neutrality” is an umbrella term that includes emission reductions, offsets, and removals. We know that’s too much new jargon! We intend to explain all of them and more…
Breaking down Carbon neutrality begins with reductions. The choices we make impact the size of our carbon footprint, and many of us are reducing it wherever possible. This can include switching to alternative energy sources instead of fossil fuels, choosing public transport instead of driving, or divesting from carbon-intensive industries. It takes a concentrated effort to produce less waste and use more renewable energy.
But we need to act now. We should also clean up existing CO2 emissions for what we can’t currently reduce – maybe due to a lack of technology or prohibitive costs, or we have reached a limit/comfortable threshold. As the name suggests, carbon removal happens when CO2 is captured from the atmosphere through various processes, emerging technologies, and natural carbon sinks. This is the only way to reach net zero.
Nevertheless, what cannot be made up by carbon reduction or removal can be compensated for its unavoidable emissions that are unavoidable by financing certified climate action activities worldwide. This practice entails carbon offsetting and carbon credits. So, If you’re interested in carbon emissions reduction, should you buy a carbon offset or credit?
Examining carbon offset reduces carbon in one place to compensate or negate the carbon emissions made elsewhere. To put it simply, individuals or organizations offset their carbon footprint by supporting projects such as reforestation, clean energy, and direct carbon capture.
Since the world’s carbon emissions are increasing at an alarming rate, carbon offset is rapidly growing in importance as a mechanism to battle climate change and global warming.
So is this as simple as balancing an equation? Well, no. Why?
Would you rather burn a tree and grow a new one in its place, or not burn a tree in the first place?
Carbon offset projects take time to be effective. They only compensate for greenhouse gas emissions and not other climate change issues. They do not affect the current CO2 levels in the air. Carbon offset calculators are imprecise, and companies are not transparent about what projects they fund. Overall, the impact is low.
Another workable solution is buying Carbon Credits. Carbon credits are attracting a lot of interest nowadays. What are carbon credits, and could we trade these credits? We can!
A carbon credit is a tradable permit that allows the holder to emit a certain amount of carbon dioxide or other greenhouse gases. One credit permits the emission of one metric tonne of CO2 or the equivalent amount of different greenhouse gas.
Let us understand how Carbon Credits work through an example:
This means that company A emits less than its target amount of CO2; company A has a surplus of carbon credits (meaning it produces fewer emissions). On the other hand, company B emits more than its target amount of hydrocarbons, so either company B pays a fine or tries to buy carbon credits from another company. At this point, companies A and B agree and trade carbon credits; company A sells its surplus to company B, earning money and positive image feedback. At the same time, company B buys carbon credits from company A and avoids paying a fine.
We know that there were many terms to take in at one time. The practices described here are not perfect. But people are living through climate change.
We need people to take collective action on climate change. Participating in a carbon offset program will make you feel good about your energy choices. It also supports our collaborative efforts to preserve beautiful and habitable earth for future generations. And this is why we urge people to ‘reduce what you can and offset what you can’t.’