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Pros and cons of carbon offsetting

The well-known, but controversial strategy to limit greenhouse gas emissions has been subject to constant criticism

Carbon offset has been a hot issue in the global campaign to address climate change.

Allowing government, companies and even individuals investors in the scheme to reduce their own carbon emissions carbon offset is “one of the most well-known and controversial strategies to reduce greenhouse gases” Vox reported. Vox.

Businesses ranging across the spectrum from Amazon from Amazon to Shell and nations including Norway and the UK as well as Norway are purchasing carbon offsets to “help in achieving the ‘net’ for their net-zero emission targets” The news site stated.

The holidaymakers are also adopting offsets as “a way to fly guilt-free” according to Reuters. However, some critics are asking whether offsetting is really “a way to reduce emissions”. The following are some arguments for and against.

Pros: Funds projects

If “done correctly” carbon offset can “inject massive sums of money into unfunded climate solutions” According to The Financial Times. In a piece on behalf of the World Economic Forum, Bronson Griscom, the senior director of the field of natural climate issues in Conservation International, highlighted several “success stories” of projects that have gained by offsets.

They included a program which reduced the reforestation of an area in the Peruvian Amazon by 75%, leading to carbon emissions being avoided in the same way in the form of “taking over one million vehicles off the roads each year”.

It is also worth noting that the Costa Rican government also generates 30 million dollars annually for conservation of forests via carbon credits, which has contributed to the conservation of the land of millions of forest.

Cons: ‘flawed’ estimations

The process of calculating carbon footprints and emissions Carbon footprints and emissions is “a complicated and inefficient process” According to The New York Times. “At most, it is an estimate. It is usually presented in grams of equivalent carbon dioxide.”

Even if these figures are correct, offsets can be “a extremely murky environment that lacks much control” according to Jamie Alexander, director of Drawdown Labs, a nonprofit that collaborates with tech companies to develop climate solutions.

Greenpeace found that “the major issue offsets don’t lie in the fact that what they can offer is bad trees or efficient and renewable energy for low-income communities are excellent things – but more they don’t live up to exactly what’s on the label.

“They aren’t actually cancelling out – or compensate – for the emission the emissions to which they’re linked.”

Pros: technological developments

The criticism of carbon offset is not new, however companies are working on addressing transparency and efficiency issues with innovative techniques. Patricia Wyllie of Founders Intelligence in her column for says that these developments will enable offsetting to become “a actual tool to help transition us” to more sustainable methods of operation.

Wyllie noted that some firms use GPS to monitor and track the deforestation and tree planting While others are working to encourage local communities to aid in offset projects through providing stable sources of income in addition to planning for forest reforestation via drones. Direct carbon capture (DCC) is another new technology that is gaining popularity.

Cons: no regulation

There is “no obligation” for those who purchase carbon offsets to reveal “who uses offsets, and the number” According to in the Financial Times. This system of offsets is “voluntary and not regulated, which is in contrast to market for compliance, such as the EU’s emissions trading scheme”.

A report by Investment banking institution Credit Suisse earlier this year called the market for voluntary credit an “wild wild west” which has “poor transparency” and “low (if there is any) correlation between credit quality and price”.

Former Governor of the Bank of England Mark Carney has admitted that there is “lots and bad” going on within the system that “does actually cause harm”.

Pros: One of the many solutions that are needed

As a response to the report released in April by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in April of this year, Green Party MP Caroline Lucas stated that “there’s no magic bullet for combating the climate crisis” However, there’s “an array of viable real-world solutions that are at our disposal” which include “reversing the loss of the carbon sinks”.

Carbon offset could be one of the solutions that are needed to fight the climate crisis, and its effectiveness could be increased by more investments in DCC as well as other measures to reduce carbon emissions.

Con: Doesn’t always mean an element.

Independent investigative news outlet ProPublica stated that the only real measure of carbon offsetting’s effectiveness is based on what’s known as “additionality”. The supposed environmental benefits “are only valid” in the event that offsets finance projects like windmills or solar farms that “would not have been built without credits”.

A study conducted by the European Commission into UN-sanctioned offset projects showed that over three-quarters of them were unlikely to have led to further reductions in emissions. This means that the majority of the plans would’ve already been completed regardless, even without offset funding.

This means that “in most cases it’s evident that carbon offset doesn’t perform in the real world” according to Friends of the Earth, but “it obviously depends on which projects are getting supported”.

Pros: climate concerns drive action

Despite concerns about carbon offsets trading is growing which has attracted massive amounts of interest and investment. “Many firms are being pressured by their customers and shareholders to push the market to offset carbon emissions” According to The Wall Street Journal.

“There are certain aspects that aren’t able to be eliminated completely,” Columbia Business School Professor Bruce Usher told the newspaper: “And so your only solution , at the end the day is to utilize offsets”. stated that offsets “can be beneficial when used in a responsible manner” However, on an individual basis, one must ensure that offset credit is “credible and permanent, as well as additional and verified by market standards that are voluntary”.

Cons: Inconsistency

Another crucial aspect in the debate over offsets is whether the schemes that offer carbon reductions last forever. To stop global warming greenhouse gas emissions, greenhouse gases need to be removed from the atmosphere effectively for the duration of time.

“Tree cultivation is well-known offset scheme, mostly because it’s less expensive than other options,” the environmental campaigners network said. “But it is true that trees can go up in flames.” The critics have been pointing to the last forest fires that devastated projects along west coast of the US west coast, which resulted in offsets purchased by big companies like BP along with Microsoft.

In contrast, taking preventive steps to cut emissions will ensure an even and consistent management of carbon. A report from 2015 of the Stockholm Environment Institute found that 75 percent of the credits granted weren’t likely to result in real reductions. It also found that if countries had reduced pollution at the source instead of using offsets, the global CO2 emissions would have been around 600 million tonnes less.