Carbon Offsetting: forgive my carbon sin?
3rd June, 2008
We all want our green wings, and the notion of purchasing them via carbon offsetting is powerfully seductive. as Jules Peck reveals, however, buying your way into eco heaven can be fraught with problems
If and when a universal cap on greenhouse gases is ratified, all emissions will be controlled by law. In the absence of such an agreement some say that carbon offsetting – a voluntary scheme that companies and individuals alike can participate in – has a role to play, and that it offers a simple way for anyone to neutralise their Brontosaurian emissions.
Put simply, offsetting entails paying for activities that prevent emissions from other sources, or those that attempt to remove CO² from the atmosphere, rather than reducing or avoiding your own CO² emissions. So instead of not taking a flight you purchase an offset certificate, the money for which might go towards building a wind turbine in India or planting a tree in Indonesia.
Offsetting is a divisive issue that fast brings to the surface discussions of political ideology, economic efficiency, moral and scientific dilemmas, and a host of other issues. Many of those who buy offsets are well-meaning and trying to ‘do their bit’. Nevertheless, there are concerns that much offsetting is little more than greenwash.
The companies that broker offsets are themselves split on the details of...
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