Carbon offsets are a voluntary form of trade. After you’ve done all you can to reduce your carbon footprint by increasing your home’s efficiency, driving less or utilizing a carbon-neutral energy source like solar power, you can buy a carbon offset. Carbon offsets are essentially promises to use money in a way that will reduce the emission of carbon dioxide (CO2). Your purchase funds reductions in greenhouse gas emissions through projects such as wind farms, which produce clean energy that displaces energy from fossil fuel. By funding these reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, you balance out, or offset, your own impact by an equivalent amount. Carbon offsets help you take responsibility for the environmental consequences of your activities. Of course you can also cut your energy use and save substantially on your energy bills by scheduling a simple and professional home energy audit.
Carbon footprints determine how much carbon dioxide we create just by living our daily lives. We create carbon dioxide when we drive to work, turn on lights, and take a plane flight, because all these actions rely on the burning of fossil fuels like coal, oil, and gas. When fossil fuels burn they release greenhouse gases that add to global warming. Because footprints measure a quantity of carbon that goes up or down based on energy use, they inform people that CFL light bulbs, solar panels, or home insulation really do facilitate lower emissions.
In an attempt to become carbon neutral people or companies purchase carbon offset. Offset companies start by approximating a customer’s carbon production. They use carbon calculators to establish the total greenhouse gases produced by a year’s worth of electricity or driving, an event or even a round-trip flight. Offset companies then bill based on their own greenhouse gas fee per person. The fee paid finances programs that counteract an equal amount of emissions. Some offset companies permit customers to choose their program; others do not.
Offsets can provide people who are reluctant to alter their lifestyle a simple, financial method to avoid accountability. Offsets don’t offer carbon penitence for a trip by private aircraft or the construction of a huge house. Businesses can hide behind negligent ecological standards with highly touted carbon offsets. Environmentalists call this type of dishonesty greenwashing. Some environmentalists doubt the validity and usefulness of carbon offsets. Because commercial carbon dealing is a budding market, it is hard to critique the value of offset suppliers and developments.