Climate change is one of the biggest threats currently facing the planet. As such, companies and organisations across the globe are now focusing on how they can better support the environment by making changes to their processes and operations – one of these is carbon offsetting. Learn more about what carbon offsetting is and whether carbon offsetting is a worthwhile strategy below.
What is carbon offsetting?
Carbon offsetting is when companies compensate for the emissions they create by funding carbon dioxide-saving projects elsewhere. This could be in the same country or in locations across the world. While this is primarily a practice that companies engage in, some private citizens also use it to offset their own emissions.
Examples of carbon offsetting
There are plenty of examples of carbon offsetting, including:
Sports teams, especially at the highest levels, travel a lot to their matches and competitions. This requires team buses and even private jets to reach their destinations, which can be the other side of the world for larger tournaments. In these cases, teams might calculate the carbon emitted and work with local communities to reduce their own emissions, such as by improving the insulation in houses.
When publishing books, companies use a lot of energy and wood in the production process. Not only are they using trees for paper, but they create emissions by heating the factory and running the machinery. Publishers makeup for their carbon emissions by planting new woodlands, adding to the number of trees and creating enough new forest to absorb the CO2 that the company creates over time. The internet is good in this specific regard as this is not the case for online publishers like this one.
Is carbon offsetting effective?
Carbon offsetting is effective if it’s additional, but if it’s the only practice that companies are engaging in, it won’t be doing anything to actually reduce their emissions (learn more here). While companies that engage in carbon offsetting are showing that they care about the world around them and are taking steps to reduce the impact their process they have, they could be doing much more.
Offsetting carbon emissions that are produced during large manufacturing processes in China by planting more trees in the Amazon rainforest, for example, is not a like-for-like, nor does it do anything to raise awareness of localised environmental issues. Some alternatives to carbon offsetting that help to lower a business’s impact on the environment include reducing funding for the fossil fuel industry, donating to charities that are tackling environmental issues, making changes to business practices to reduce carbon emissions and making it easier for employees to make more sustainable choices.