The well-known, but controversial strategy to limit greenhouse gas emissions has been subject to constant examination
Carbon offsets have been a hot issue in the global campaign to address climate change.
Inviting governments, businesses and even individuals investors in the scheme to offset their carbon emissions carbon offsets are now “one of the most popular and controversial methods to cut greenhouse gas emissions” according to Vox.
Companies across the spectrum from Amazon and Amazon Shell and nations including countries like the UK as well as Norway are purchasing carbon offsets to “help to achieve the net in their net-zero emissions objectives” The news site stated.
The holidaymakers are also adopting offsets as “a way to fly guilt-free” according to Reuters. But some are asking whether offsetting actually is “a method to reduce emissions”. The following are some arguments to support as well as the arguments against.
Pros: Funding projects
If “done correctly” carbon offset can “inject massive sums of money into unfunded climate solutions” According to The Financial Times. In a piece in the World Economic Forum, Bronson Griscom who is the senior director for the field of natural climate issues for Conservation International, highlighted several “success stories” of projects that have seen benefits by offsets.
They included a program which reduced the reforestation of an area in the Peruvian Amazon by 75%, leading to an equivalent reduction in carbon emissions that is equivalent to “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 allowed for the preservation 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 flawed procedure” The process of calculating carbon footprints and emissions is “complex and flawed,” 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 true, offsets represent “a super-misunderstood world that doesn’t have any control” according to Jamie Alexander, director of Drawdown Labs, a nonprofit that collaborates with tech companies to develop climate solutions.
Greenpeace has concluded that “the major issue offsets have isn’t that the thing they can offer is bad the tree planting, efficient and renewable energy for low-income communities are great things, but that they don’t deliver exactly what’s on the label.
“They do not actually cancel out – or neutralize – emissions them.”
Pros: technological developments
The criticism of carbon offset is not new, but businesses are working on addressing the issues of efficiency and transparency with innovative techniques. Patricia Wyllie of Founders Intelligence who wrote for medium.com she said that these breakthroughs offer the solutions needed to make carbon offsetting “a effective tool for transitioning us” to more sustainable methods of operation.
Wyllie noted that some firms use GPS to monitor and track forest deforestation and tree plantation While others are working to encourage local communities to assist with offsetting projects by offering reliable income as well as planning for the reforestation process via drones. Direct carbon capture (DCC) is an new technology that is gaining popularity.
Cons: no regulation
There is “no need” for those who purchase carbon offsets to divulge “who is using offsets and the number” According to The Financial Times. This system of offsets is “voluntary and unregulated, in contrast to market for compliance, such as the European Union’s emissions trading system”.
A report by an investment banking institution Credit Suisse earlier this year called the market for voluntary credit an “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” taking place within the system that “does actually cause harm”.
Pros: just one of the solutions required
As a response to the study published in April by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in April of this year, Green Party MP Caroline Lucas declared that “there’s no magic bullet for combating the climate crisis” However, there’s “an array of viable real and realistic solutions available to us” which include “reversing the decline of the carbon sinks”.
Carbon offset could be one of the many options required to combat climate change. Its effectiveness could be increased by additional investments in DCC as well as other measures to reduce carbon emissions.
Con: It’s not always the best way to add some thing
Independent investigative news website ProPublica stated that the only real measure of carbon offsetting’s effectiveness is based on what’s known as “additionality”. The claimed environmental benefits “are only true” when offsets are used to fund projects like windmills or solar farms that “would never have been constructed without credits”.
A study by the European Commission into UN-sanctioned offset projects revealed that more than three-quarters of the projects were likely to not have led to further reductions in emissions. This means that the majority of these plans would’ve already been constructed regardless, even without offset funds.
According to the report “in the majority of cases, it is evident that carbon offset doesn’t actually work” According to Friends of the Earth, however “it obviously depends on which projects are financially supported”.
Pros: climate concerns drive action
Despite concerns about carbon offsets trade is growing as the marketplace has attracted massive amounts of interest and investment. “Many businesses are being pressured by their customers and shareholders to push the market to offset carbon emissions” According to The Wall Street Journal.
“There are some things 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 make use of offsets”.
EcoChain.com said offsets “can be beneficial provided they are utilized properly” however, at an individual basis, one should ensure offsets are “credible and permanent, as well as additional and verified by market standards that are voluntary”.
Read more on the carbon.credit website.
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 for a long time.
“Tree plantation is popular offset plan, largely because it’s much less costly than other options,” the environmental campaigners network added. “But it is true that trees can be destroyed by fire.” Some critics have been pointing to the last fires that destroyed forest projects along in the US west coast, which produced offsets that were purchased by big companies like BP along with Microsoft.
However, taking proactive measures to reduce emissions will ensure an even and consistent management of carbon. A report released in 2015 of the Stockholm Environment Institute found that 75 percent of the credits awarded weren’t likely to result in real reductions in emissions, and that had countries cut pollution at the source instead of relying on offsets the global CO2 emissions would be 600 million tonnes less.