What is carbon offsetting?

You are sure to have seen company literature and television advertisements in which companies claim that they offset their carbon footprint in some way.

But what on earth does this actually mean?

It is possible to take steps to mitigate the amount of carbon released by your activities, by doing things like planting trees.

In particular it is important to try an offset those carbon emissions which cannot be reasonably avoided – after all other steps have been taken to reduce this figure.

Carbon credits
Businesses often take advantage of schemes where they pay another company elsewhere in the world to offset on their behalf.

They get credits in terms of the tonnes saved which they use to offset their emissions. While this may seem like an easy get out clause and a way to boost the company image – it is actually quite useful. The money is being put to good use in saving rainforests, planting more trees, recycling, creating new technologies and reducing waste in the countries where these things are sorely needed. Plus it creates jobs in those industries.

Offsetting for individuals

It is not just businesses who can offset their carbon footprint. Individuals can also do this by taking part in local schemes or by simply installing their own energy efficient technologies. The carbon you create on one hand can be offset by the energy you save on another. The aim of any offsetting is to become carbon neutral.

Offsetting schemes are currently approved by a Quality Assurance Scheme and only these are allowed to be sold.

It is important that you ensure any scheme you choose meets these guidelines.

Next What is the Government doing to tackle the problem?

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