In the shortest and sweetest terms, carbon offsets aim to help reduce the environmental damage dirty energy creates.
How we measure carbon offsets: One carbon offset represents the reduction of one metric ton of carbon dioxide or its equivalent in other greenhouse gases. – wikipedia.com
How a carbon offset works: “A mechanism by which the impact of emitting a ton of carbon dioxide (CO2) can be negated or diminished by avoiding the release of a ton elsewhere, or absorbing a ton of CO2 from the air that otherwise would have remained in the atmosphere.” – greenmyplanet.net/index.php
In other words: “A carbon offset is a financial donation or other act that aims to remove a certain amount of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, to compensate for another carbon dioxide emitting activity.” – www.carboninsight.com.au/index.php
Now that we have that straight, a person or company may purchase carbon offsets (by donating money to projects in solar, wind or reforestation) to balance out the things they do that use dirty fuels, such as driving and flying. In the larger, corporate and government industries, carbon offsets are purchased in large quantities to help offset emissions and keep these organizations under the cap of what they are allowed to emit. In that market, in 2006, $5.5 billion dollars were spent on carbon offsets, which represented 1.6 billion metric tons of reduced CO2 emissions; and in 2008, in the smaller, individual and residential market (people often purchase COs as part of a travel package), 705 million dollars were spent and 123.4 million metric tons offset, according to Wikipedia.com.
Since the next logical question is, “Where and how do I buy carbon offsets?”, here’s a list (researched and reported by the folks over at Good magazine) of companies who will truly help you out in your lofty goals to offset carbon emissions, and will not just take your money, forgetting to tell you just exactly where they put it.
1. Native Energy, focuses on Native American, local family farms and other community projects.
3. The Climate Trust, tailored to larger businesses and organizations.
Headline Photo © Jean Schweitzer | Dreamstime.com