Sunday, March 28, 2010

What’s in a carbon offset?

Carbon offsetting is seen to provide a way to help reduce global carbon emissions. Yet, does it really?

If you have been following the world’s leading scientists any time over the past twenty years you would have heard that we urgently need to reduce global carbon emissions to avoid the consequences of severe climate change.

If done correctly a carbon offset does reduce carbon emissions. It allows you to act on your concern for the rising levels of man made carbon dioxide and empowers you to help stop damaging climate change.

The number of people using carbon offsetting is growing rapidly, with 87% more carbon offsetting in 2008 than in 2007. But what’s in a carbon offset? Does it really help to reduce carbon emissions? What are the alternatives?

Everyday, more people and businesses are becoming aware of the impact of their everyday activities on the environment. When we use electricity or transport we are producing carbon dioxide somewhere! Reducing our energy demands helps reduce the amount of carbon emissions for which we are responsible. For instance we can do simple things like turn off unused lights, use less heating and cooling, and drive less. Reducing our demand on energy has a double win; not only does it help reduce carbon emissions but it also saves you money through reducing your bills.

However, is a reduction in energy demand enough? The risk is that the energy you save may be used somewhere else. That’s where carbon offsetting comes into the equation.

Captain Carbon Neutral - Helping Reduce Global Carbon Emissions and Stop Climate Change
To voluntarily carbon offset is to go the extra mile. After reducing our energy demands it is possible to cancel out (carbon neutralise) the emissions that are unavoidable. Many businesses are seeing the benefits of leading the way to cancel carbon emissions. Some businesses have committed to cancelling all of the carbon emissions for which they are responsible and becoming carbon neutral, such as AGL, ANZ, Dell, Goldman Sachs JBWere, Hydro Tasmania, ING, KPMG, Melbourne Water, NAB, and News Limited.

Now, the question remains; does carbon offsetting really help to reduce carbon emission? The answer depends on the type of credit used to ‘offset’.

In our next blog we will look at “What are the alternatives to carbon offset emissions”

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