What is a Carbon Offset?

By Brian Kasyoka Musili on August 1 2017 in Environment

Planting a tree is an example of a carbon offset.
Planting a tree is an example of a carbon offset.

What Is Carbon Offset?

“Carbon offset” refers to reductions that are made in the emission of greenhouse gasses in an attempt to compensate for other emissions.

How Is Carbon Offset Measured?

It is measured in metric tons of carbon dioxide-equivalent (CO2e ).

Examples Of Carbon Offsets

Different human activities can generate carbon offsets. These include the use of renewable energy resources like the wind, solar, hydroelectric, geothermal and biomass energy. The use of these renewable energy resources creates carbon offsets by displacing fossil fuels.

The combustion of methane generated by farm animals and landfills also aids in carbon offsetting. Another source of carbon offset is the destruction of industrial pollutants like the hydrofluorocarbons and perfluorocarbons which can be easily captured and destroyed at an effective cost.

Effectiveness Of Carbon Offsets

Carbon offsets help to maintain a cleaner environment hence reducing the side of effects of pollution in human lives. It encourages the use of renewable energy leading to lower fossil fuel consumption. The offsetting projects also improve the environment and brings revenue to developing countries. It creates new habitat for wildlife and helps to recover the lost biodiversity.

Controversies And Criticism

Offsetting projects such as tree planting may take many years to show an impact on carbon offsetting while the damage human beings make during this time could dampen the effects of carbon offset. Many activists are against carbon offsetting claiming that it motivates the continued pollution of the environment for human benefit. Carbon offsetting also leads to the destruction of native forests and reduces biodiversity with the planting of fast-growing invasive species with the notion of cutting cost. Since the approach is completely new, it is difficult to assess the exact results of carbon offsetting as most of them are meant to improve and maintain the public image of the provider.

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