Global warming is caused by the build up of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere
from human activity, primarily the burning of fossil fuels to provide the energy
and services we use every day. We burn fossil fuels for electricity (from coal and
gas) in our homes and businesses, our cars, flights and to create the food, clothes
and other things we buy and consume every day.
Carbon offsets enable individuals and businesses to reduce the CO2 emissions
they are responsible for by offsetting, reducing or displacing the CO2 in another
place, typically where it is more economical to do so. Carbon offsets typically
include renewable energy, energy efficiency and reforestation projects.
Carbon emission offsetting can be used to offset the inevitable CO2 pollution
after you have done your best to try to avoid the pollution in the first place.
The danger of carbon offsetting is to postpone real solutions to solve the problem
of global warming and other pollution. To the big nay sayers we would like to say:
do you manage to live completely pollution-free? (Even the production of PV solar
panels requires energy, usually not clean energy!) How to become climate neutral (Wikipedia)
Key points to look for when choosing an offsetting service: is there
any other way this pollution can be prevented or reduced before offsetting, is the
carbon offsetting service verified, do their projects offer ‘additionality’?
We are glad to see that even the smart people at Google are using
carbon offsetting as a valid way to effectively help reduce greenhouse gases read
Treehugger – “Google offsetting 45,000 homes”.
How much does Carbon Offsetting cost? Price survey!
Example: a mid-sized 30 mpg car driving 12,000 miles/year will create
about 3.55 tons of CO2/year. Using the carbon calculator of one of the companies
which are listed here, we figured this would cost only about $19.50 or $1.63/month
to be offset! Please take into account that depending on the project, it may take
from several to many years before the offset actually brings your CO2 balance to
zero. This means that CO2 pollution will still increase and will need some years
to get to zero. Also, do not forget that other pollution is also involved (noise,
other chemicals) and may not be reduced to zero by offsetting. Offsetting is not
a free ticket to business as usual!
How can a gallon of gasoline produce 20 pounds of carbon dioxide? (fueleconomy.gov)
It is up to each of us to clean our own mess, obviously the government
can’t and won’t do it (alone). Signing up with any of these programs might
effectively reduce your CO2 contributions to ZERO! (All prices in US$
or British Pound where indicated)
Flight Emissions Calculator Comparison
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Ecobusinesslinks.com Carbon Offset Survey
(Prices are for individuals, businesses may be able to get volume discounts)
Carbon Offset Provider Price (US$/Metric ton CO2) Non-profit Projects Types Project Choice Offset Types Product Certification/
(Links see below table)
Verus Carbon Neutral
$2.75 (varies with CCX price) No Various No Personal, Business Chicago Climate Exchange (CCX) Cleaner Climate
UK & Australia
AU$8.00 No Renewables, Efficiency, Methane No Air, Car, Home, Business CDM, VCS (UNFCCC) Carbonfund.org
$10.00 Yes Renewables, Efficiency, Reforestation Yes Home, Car, Air, Events, Business Environmental Resources Trust, Climate Community and Biodiversity Standards, Chicago
Climate Exchange, UNFCCC JI
ClearSky Climate Solutions
$12.00 No Forestry/reforestation, Methane, Rangeland Management Yes Personal, Car, Air, Custom packages for businesses, events, weddings and organizations Chicago Climate Exchange, Climate Community and Biodiversity Standard Terrapass
$13.11 No Renewables, Methane No Car, Home, Air, Events, Business Chicago Climate Exchange, Center for Resource Solutions Native Energy
$14.00 No Renewables, Methane Yes Home, Car, Air, Events, Business Voluntary Carbon Standard, Gold Standard, Climate Action Reserve, Clean Development
Mechanism, or Joint Implementation under the Kyoto Protocol
AU$22.00 No Renewables No Home, Car, Air, Business Office of the Renewable Energy Regulator, NSW Government, Ernst & Young. Offsetters
CA$20.00-30.00 (CER’s) No Renewables, Efficiency, Methane No Personal, Business Choice of Gold Standard LiveNeutral.com
$20.00 Yes Efficiency No Car Chicago Climate Exchange Bonneville Environmental Foundation
$29.00 Yes Renewables No Home, Air, Business, Event Green-e Climate Certified Myclimate
$33.00-99.00 Yes Renewables Yes Air, Events, Business Designated Operational Entity
Services Accredited by or Products from CDM only
£12.99 No Various, depending on CDM offset projects No Car, Air, Motorbike Home, Commute, Business CDM
a: Atmos Clear – Low price for 25 Ton option at $135 1. Offset Types: There are hundreds of potential offset types. We have
limited our survey to just the most common.
2. Verification: “n/a” means we were unable to determine a
third-party verification body. The projects may, however, be verified.
3. Choice: refers to whether customers may choose between project types
and/or specific projects.
4. Price: prices change and exchange rates fluctuate. The data listed
was first gathered from the respective websites July 21, 2006
5. Other offset providers may exist. This survey provides a cross section
of the industry, projects may be added or removed over time.
6. Some information may be incomplete or has changed. We welcome updates. * Please make sure that additionality is offered by the offsetting projects.
CCX and certainly some others as well do not guarantee this.
Links to some important verification organisations:
Chicago Climate Exchange
Environmental Resources Trust http://www.ert.net
Climate Community and Biodiversity Standard (CCBS) http://www.climate-standards.org
Center for Resource Solutions http://www.resource-solutions.org
Voluntary Carbon Standard http://www.v-c-s.org
Gold Standard http://www.cdmgoldstandard.org
UNFCCC CDM http://cdm.unfccc.int
UNFCCC JI http://ji.unfccc.int
Plan Vivo http://www.planvivo.org
NGAC – GGAS – NSW Greenhouse Gas Reduction Scheme http://www.greenhousegas.nsw.gov.au/