Everything you need to know about carbon offsets

Elliot Coad

Elliot Coad

Your carbon offset questions answered

  • What is a carbon offset?

    The process begins with project developers designing projects with the aim of reducing carbon dioxide emissions.

    When the developer establishes their project – such as a solar power plant – they can opt to go through a stringent assessment methodology developed by a carbon standards organisation (like the Gold Standard and the Verified Carbon Standard), to assess the real-world reductions of emissions which will be caused as a result of the project activity.

    This impact is measured in tonnes of carbon dioxide (tCO2) or tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (tCO2e). Carbon dioxide equivalent refers to a unit of measurement that is used to standardise the climate effects of various greenhouse gases based on their global warming potential over a specific timeframe. The tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent that has been reduced (or removed) by the project activity, is represented by a ‘carbon credit’ which is issued to the project developer. The carbon credit is often considered as a permit or licence to emit that one tonne of carbon dioxide (or carbon dioxide equivalent).

    The developer is then welcome to sell these credits to other parties who are looking to buy them to offset their emissions. ‘Carbon offsetting’ is therefore a term which describes the act of purchasing credits to balance (or ‘offset’) the emissions caused by an activity – like a personal annual footprint, or the emissions caused through a company’s operations.

    Once purchased, the buyer then can ‘retire’ the credits, meaning that they can no longer be bought or sold, and the right to produce the emissions which the credit represents is gone forever. In this way, credits provide a vehicle for converting money into climate impact.

  • Can't I just offset my emissions by planting trees?

  • What's the difference between reduction and removal offsets?

  • Can carbon offsets solve climate change?

  • What is the right way to use carbon offsets?

  • What makes a good carbon offset project?

  • How does Ecologi ensure the projects it funds are good ones?

  • Which carbon standard is the best?

  • How can Ecologi provide carbon offsets so cheaply?

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