Why Carbon Offset?
Greenhouse gas emissions are upsetting the natural balance of our ecosystem. Our plant is changing, and we should learn how our action contribute to climate change, and what we can do abut it.
Greenhouse gas emissions are upsetting the natural balance of our ecosystem. Learn more about how our planet is changing, how your actions contribute to climate change, and what you can do about it.
According to the EPA, climate change refers to any signiﬁcant change in the measures of climate lasting for an extended period of time. In other words, climate change includes major changes in temperature, precipitation, or wind patterns that occur over several decades or longer.
An analogy we like is that climate change is like a baseball player on steroids. A baseball player will still hit home runs if not taking steroids, but as he takes steroids, the frequency and intensity of the home runs increase. Just like we will still have hurricanes, hot days, and other signiﬁcant climate events without climate change, the frequency and intensity of these events increases with climate change.
In our everyday lives, we all create carbon emissions which make-up our carbon footprint. According to The Union of Concerned Scientists, the average carbon emissions per person the varies depending on their their location, where in Latin America can be 5 mT and in the United States 17.62 mT per person or the equivalent of keeping 3.7 passenger cars on the road for a year.
The ﬁrst step to reducing your carbon footprint is knowing where your carbon emissions are coming from. Both individuals and businesses can calculate their carbon footprints. You can use our Carbon Calculator. Once you have assessed where your carbon emissions are coming from, you can take action to reduce your footprint. Small changes can make a big difference.
Lets take you drive an average of 12,000 miles a year, where each gallon of gasoline burned creates about 19 lbs of CO2. Reducing the number of miles you drive will reduce the amount of gas you burn. A few ways to reduce driving include clustering your errands so you do not make multiple trips from the house, take public transportation, carpool to work, or ask your boss if you can work from home one day a week.
You can also improve your MPG by properly maintaining your car. Be sure to take your car in for regular tune-ups, keep the tire pressure inﬂated to the correct PSI, and make sure you are not carrying around extra weight in your trunk.
Home energy use is one of the largest contributors to carbon footprints. Heating and cooling can account for almost half of your annual energy bill. Using a programmable thermostat to adjust your thermostat up 2 degrees in cold seasons and down 2 degrees in hot seasons can have a big impact.
Another common but overlooked source of energy use in the home is vampire power, also known as phantom power or standby load. Vampire power refers to devices that are plugged in at home and are constantly sucking energy even when turned off. It is estimated that vampire power accounts for 10% of energy usage in our homes. You can manage vampire power by unplugging devices when not in use or using a power strip for easy management of your devices.
A large portion of trash ends up in landﬁlls, which is a big source of greenhouse gas emissions. You can reduce your waste with a few easy actions including recycling, using reusable cups and shopping bags, reducing the amount of bottled water you drink, and composting.
Even after you’ve done your best to reduce through action, some of these activities will emit greenhouse gases. Carbon offsets let you help build projects in communities across the country that reduce emissions beyond what you could achieve through personal action. Offsets make environmental and economic sense- for emissions that are impossible to reduce, you can use funds to help reduce emissions elsewhere.
Carbon offsets let you help build projects in communities across the country that reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions beyond what you can achieve through individual action. Carbon offsets are purchased to fund these projects and diminish the impact of your own GHG emissions, even though the projects are located elsewhere. Carbon Offsets make environmental and economic sense- for emissions that are impossible to reduce, you can use funds to help reduce emissions elsewhere.
A carbon offset is a certiﬁcate representing the reduction of one metric ton (2,205 lbs) of carbon dioxide emissions, the principal cause of climate change. Carbon offsets are an important ﬁnancing mechanism for emission reductions projects. Although complex in practice, carbon offsets are fairly simple in theory.
If you develop a project that reduces carbon dioxide emissions, every ton of emissions reduced results in the creation of one carbon offset. Project developers can then sell these offsets to ﬁnance their projects. There are hundreds of different types of carbon reduction projects. For example, a dairy farm can install an anaerobic digester to capture and destroy methane that would otherwise be released when animal manure decomposes. However, such anaerobic digester projects are typically expensive to install and maintain. In order to ﬁnance the construction and operation of a digester project, a dairy farm can sell the emission reductions in the form of carbon offsets.
Carbon offsets are therefore an available tool for individuals and organizations that wish to mitigate the impact of their own carbon footprints.
Emission reduction projects reduce the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere in one of three ways:
1. By capturing and destroying a greenhouse gas that would otherwise be emitted into the atmosphere. An example of this is a methane gas capture project at a landﬁll.
2. By producing energy using a clean, renewable resource that eliminates the need to produce that same energy from fossil fuels, the burning of which releases greenhouse gas into the atmosphere. An example of this is wind power.
3. By capturing and storing (or “sequestering”) greenhouse gases to prevent their release into the atmosphere. An example of this is a project that promotes the healthy growth and maintenance of forests.
Some projects include more than one of these activities at the same time. For example, gas capture projects at landﬁlls not only prevent the release of methane gas into the atmosphere, but they also use the captured methane to generate electricity that would otherwise be generated by burning fossil fuels such as coal or natural gas.
Wind energy displaces electricity that is generated by dirty fossil fuels like gas and coal. In this sense, the amount of carbon dioxide emissions that are avoided depends upon the “carbon proﬁle” of the electricity grid where the energy is produced.
Forests can sequester carbon dioxide (C02) in a variety of ways. Carbon is stored in the trunks, leaves, branches, and roots of trees. Carbon is also stored in the forest soil, understory plants, and green “litter” on the forest ﬂoor. An Improved Forest Management Project under the CAR Forest Project Protocol involves changing forest management practices to increase carbon stocks on forested land relative to baseline (or “business as usual”) levels of carbon stocks. In other words, Improved Forest Management helps forests sequester more carbon.
A renewable energy credit (REC)—also sometimes referred to as a renewable energy certiﬁcate or green tag—is created for each megawatt-hour (1 MWh, or 1000 kilowatt-hours) of renewable electricity generated and delivered to the power grid.
When renewable energy is generated by wind, solar, biomass, geothermal, and certain hydropower sources, two things are created: (1) the actual electricity, and (2) the environmental beneﬁts associated with the fact that the electricity was produced without burning fossil fuels like coal or natural gas. RECs are the way those environmental beneﬁts or “attributes” are tracked and accounted for.
In an ideal world, we would all have small wind farms or solar panels that generate exactly the amount of energy we need to power our lives. But let’s face it, that’s pretty tough to do. By purchasing Renewable Energy Credits, you are supporting clean energy and displacing emissions associated with fossil fuel-powered electric generation.