How Effective are Carbon Offsets?


Carbon offset is a system developed to reduce the emission of carbon dioxide and every other greenhouse gas present in the air. Invariably, carbon offsets are measurable using carbon calculators which offer an equivalent to every number of tonnes of carbon or greenhouse gases released into the environment. The voluntary market is a very small one compared to the compliance market, and it is here where individuals, companies, and/or governments buy carbon offsets so as to counterattack the greenhouse emission of gases that they’ve released into the atmosphere via activities such as transportation, electricity, and others.

In the year 2016, figures of about $191.3 Million offsets were bought and this represents some reduction of CO2 in the air by 63.4 Million. On a broader analysis, carbon offsets are seen to be an active supporter of different initiatives and projects that plays vital roles in the reduction of greenhouse gases projected either on a short or long term.

Examples of such initiative and program include: renewable energy—which can be found in wind farms, solar panels, biomass energy or the hydroelectric dams while also taking into consideration other energy efficient programmes such as the collapsing of agricultural byproducts, collapsing of landfill methane as well as forestry-inclined projects. However effective some of these carbon offsetting programmes are, there are still a couple of questions it fails to answer and this has made environmental think-tanks ruminate on how truly effective are carbon offsets.

Traditionally, all these aforementioned initiative are focused on tree planting which is expected to absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere but the reality we have today is that they’re much more greater and wider as they also include renewable energy schemes. Below are few lists that explains the effectiveness or vice versa of carbon offsets to the environment in all ramifications:

1.A Genuine Way of Reducing Environmental Challenges

As its very essence has been pronounced, carbon offsetting is a very good way of neutralizing environmental challenges—which largely includes the emission of greenhouse gases. It also provide a great avenue to sponsor programmes such as solar energy plants as well as to bring more friendly and sustainable environment initiatives.

2.An Avenue to Engineer Social Changes

In a report created by the Britain’s National Consumer Council and Sustainable Development Commission tagged: “I Will, if You Will” towards sustainable consumption, the contribution of our desire to live in an environmentally friendly life taking a close glimpse at our social setting and people around us.

It was explained that a “positive approach to offsetting could have public resonance well beyond the CO2 offset, and would help to build awareness on the need of other measures.

3.Neglect of Real Underlying Issues

Apparently, one of the main argument that the question of how effective carbon offsets are is that it fails to address real issues. This is due to the fact that the process of carbon offsetting gives individuals and a group of people, business establishments and also the government an avenue to buy their way out of their respective and collective responsibilities towards the greenhouse gases that their activities cause.

In some way, this situation speaks of the reason why recycling is not totally the solution to our numerous waste problems because when we promote recycling and take it as a viable solution, we’re simply accepting the fact that we can purchase and make use of many single items so far they’ll eventually end up in our recycling bins.

4.Planet Earth’s Health for Sale?

Taking a very close look at the situation of encouraging carbon offsets, it can only mean that we purposefully decide to trade our health and safety for credits against carbon emissions in order to neutralize our many disastrous impact on the environment. It is a real challenge to have put a monetary price at the detriment of the environment—and most especially—the health and well-being of planet earth.

5.Tree Plantations are not Enough

Public critics among environmental conservationists have maintained that tree plantations are not really effective and are not enough to take away the carbon that is inherent in the environment. This can be traced to the fact that the trees absorb too much of the available water in an area. Besides, it also increase soil erosion and make the soil structure more compact as well as reducing its fertility.

When trees are planted, they’re done with the spontaneous use of chemicals such as fertilizers, weeders, herbicide, etc. which are renown pollutants to the environment. Problem also arises because the planting of trees brings up the practice of monoculture and, in fact, there’s more problem when we attempt to workout the number of trees required to obtain 1 tonne of carbon dioxide. This has always been a completely ineffective method as it has been tried and found to be inaccurate.

6.Reduction in Energy Waste

If we consider the need for us to improve on carbon footprint, then we can agree that carbon offsetting is quite effective because it plays an important role. From the energy we conserve in electrical equipment—as seen in energy efficient bulbs; switching off of heaters and other energy consuming gadgets when they are not in use are enough and efficient methods to reduce the impact of carbon footprint on the society which helps conserve energy and protect the environment in just the same way carbon offsetting does.

In conclusion, carbon offsetting is previewed with different lens of perspectives. To some, it has really helped and largely contributed to the reduction of greenhouse gas emission into the atmosphere while to few others, it’s an activity that doesn’t seem right because her resultant effect on the environment is on the negative.

However, for a more greener planet, it would be more appropriate to look into positivity rather than the cons that the menace might have brought. We should have our sights firmly set on big changes and reduction of these gases in the planet. But then, this is the aspect carbon offsetting is trying to address.

Effective or not, the decision is on the critics of the subject and their beliefs are deeply rooted in the importance of a conservative world. Only with their recommendations can we then tell if carbon offsets are really truly effective or outrightly inoperative.

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