Intro to Going Carbon Neutral

Warming of the planet of 2°C (3.6°F) relative to preindustrial levels would almost certainly create dangerous, potentially irreversible changes in our climate (The Madhouse Effect, 16). Since the adoption of the Paris Agreement in 2015, a steadily increasing number of people have started to take action against climate change. Organisations and businesses around the world are addressing the global threat of climate change and becoming carbon neutral for the benefit of people and the Planet.

What does it mean to become carbon neutral?

Carbon neutral is a phrase and concept that was established in the beginning of this century to establish a clear carbon reduction goal for offsetting unavoidable greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) in order to reduce net climate impact to zero.

​We can all make a positive impact on the environment by offsetting the majority of our personal GHG emissions from home energy use, driving, flying and household waste. It’s fundamentally important that each of us try to become climate neutral as soon as possible. Carbon offsetting makes environmentally and economically sense for GHG emissions that are impossible to reduce but we can use funds to help reduce emissions elsewhere.

Balancing our footprint

Carbon credits and carbon offsets are an internationally recognised way how organisations and individuals can manage their carbon emissions. It’s crucial to take steps to decarbonise and buying carbon credits or offsets can help out as it’s almost impossible to completely avoid activities that cause emissions. Balancing our carbon footprint by supporting carbon reduction projects has became easier than ever before.

The story behind carbon credits & offsets

Even when we do a lot daily to reduce our carbon footprint, the reality is that most of us won’t be able to reduce it to zero. That’s where the greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) reduction projects come to help us out. We can also take climate action by supporting green projects: reforestation, carbon dioxide removal technology, clean and renewable energy technology, recycled CO₂ technology, converting waste biomass into negative emissions, converting captured CO2 into new products (carbon fertilisers, carbon nanotubes, carbon fiber, nanoparticles for plastics, concrete and coatings, bioplastic, methanol, chemicals, bio-composite foamed plastics, vodka, fuel), capturing landfill gas to prevent methane from entering the atmosphere, building a wind farm, etc.

Some environmentalists doubt the validity and effectiveness of carbon offsets because the commercial carbon trade is an emerging market and it’s difficult to value the quality of carbon reduction projects — there are offset businesses that are not credible and scam consumers with bad or nonexistent projects. However, environmental organisations are trying to establish reliable standards for rating offset companies and projects — credible offset project must always have an accurate estimate of how much GHG a specific project captures. GHG reductions should be accurately quantified, have permanence, transparency and need clear and registered ownership. Tree planting projects are popular because they represent visible improvements but It takes times for trees to grow and reach their full potential, and the likelihood of disease or fire also remains.

Nevertheless, carbon offsets help to raise awareness and encourage individuals and businesses to take responsibility for their part in global climate change and promote sustainable living.

Carbon credits VS carbon offsets

A carbon credit is a certified instrument that represents ownership of carbon offset emissions that can be traded, sold, retired, etc. If a carbon reduction company is regulated under cap-and-trade system, they most likely have an allowance of credits that can be used towards their cap. If the company itself uses fewer emissions than they are allocated, the firm can trade with the credit. Credit becomes tradable, because of a very real reduction in emissions.

A carbon offset is also a real emissions reduction instrument but generally from a project that generate reductions outside the company and outside of any regulatory requirement. Carbon offset is derived from a 3rd party certified project that usually generates carbon credits. While a certified carbon offset project helps to reduce global climate change in the most efficient manner (good value for money and convenient) then carbon credits are created many different ways, not only from a carbon offset project.

Offsets and credits have the exact same reduction in carbon emissions and both foster climate change. The best way is to reduce what you can and offset what you can’t. However, we highly recommend to check the credibility of the project(s) behind the company selling you carbon offsets.

Are you interested to read more about carbon markets and how to go carbon neutral? Then please go to my emerging sustainability platform www.sign2act.eu

Or please follow @sign2act or me @ineskarusalo in Twitter or Instagram.

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