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Is Carbon Offsetting the solution to climate change?

  • Vanessa Hernandez

The debate about climate change-global warming continues, and it is hard to see an end to it.  It does feel that the need to be right or win an argument has become more of a priority than changing our behaviour.

Humans, in their arrogance, have forgotten how to live in balance and harmony with nature and have self-proclaimed themselves as masters of it all, but what remains undoubtedly a fact is that our planet thinks we are a virus and very easily can get rid of us if it is deemed necessary and to become once more a beautiful fertile paradise. Intense !

In all this chaos, there is still hope, and people worldwide continue to work to find solutions to our imminent catastrophe. I could spend a lifetime talking about such wonderful people, but today I will just mention one of the solutions that is worth knowing about, which is carbon offsetting.

With no further ado, here is what I understand about carbon offsetting. 

What is carbon offsetting?
A carbon offset is a way to compensate for your emissions by funding an equivalent carbon dioxide saving elsewhere. The idea of carbon offsets, also called “carbon credits,” came from the 1997 Kyoto Protocol and placed a monetary value on the cost of polluting the air.

Our everyday actions, at home and at work, consume energy and produce carbon emissions.

The main buyers of carbon offsetting are governments and companies since they are the biggest polluters, but individuals can also purchase credits to offset travel or energy use. 

How do you calculate carbon offsetting?
A single carbon credit is one megaton of carbon dioxide, a mass equal to 1,000 kilograms. Prices vary (and can be calculated on sites like Terrapass).

What happens with the money raised through carbon offsetting?
The money from the carbon offset purchases funds projects that either reduce or prevent greenhouse gas emissions elsewhere, usually in developing countries. 

What is the scope of carbon offsetting projects?
There are several categories of carbon offset projects, namely:

    1. Energy efficiency: water-saving plumbing, LED lights, upgrading appliances, etc.
    2. Renewable energies: wind, solar, hydro, etc. (the most popular choice).
    3. Intermediate technology: clean energy stoves, bike-powered pumps, etc.
    4. Reforestation: planting trees that pull CO2 from the air as they grow (most controversial due to the slow growth and difficulty of measuring oxygen output).


So the question is......

Is Carbon offsetting the solution to climate change?
Offsetting claim to provide a mechanism to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in the most cost-effective and economically-efficient manner. Offsetting plays a vital role in combating climate change, but if done in isolation, it is not the solution. 

Ultimately, carbon offsetting is a quick fix and not a long term solution because it will require years to change our unethical business practices of cutting corners (no regulation and compliance) with regard to environmental policy and stopping consumerism. 

Do you want to know what is your carbon footprint? 
Here is this free calculator: Carbon Footprint Calculator

As with everything that has to do with saving the planet, there is much debate about surrounding carbon offsetting, and we at Don Maslow Coffee want to keep the conversation going. 

If you would like to read more, please visit: Carbon Offset Project.

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