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Using Carbon Offsets to Achieve Carbon Neutrality

The rising carbon emissions are among the most serious challenges facing the planet. The amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere of Earth is currently at 400 parts per millionthe highest it’s ever been in the history of modern times. Antarctic Ice core samples have revealed the previous cycle of lower levels of carbon dioxide which ranged from 200-280 parts per million throughout the various glacial cycles. Since record-keeping started with Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii Mauna Loa Observatory, with measurements that measured 313 part per million back in the year 1958 the levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere in the earth have been setting an annual record.

Climate change can have a variety of severe impacts — rising global temperatures and rising sea levels acidification of the oceans, an increase in extreme weather events, and the risk of public health emergencies and famines in periods of extreme heat.

To combat the global threat that is climate-related, global scientists and politicians have set high-risk, essential goals to reduce global emissions. In the important Paris Agreement, drafted in the latter half of 2015, 195 nations have agreed to reduce their carbon emissions to reduce the rise in temperatures around the world by less than two degrees Celsius. In 2018, however the Panel on Climate Change reported that even a temperature rise by 1.5 degrees Celsius could be disastrous for the earth.

Achieving one or both of these temperature-curbing goals is a daunting challenge. In 2018, carbon emissions hit a record highest of 37.1 billion tonnes. To limit climate change to the 1.5-degree threshold, the globe must reduce their carbon emission by at least 45% in eleven years.

Because of this alternatives, which are sustainable and renewable such as solar or wind power are likely to be the main fuels in the near future. However, many people worried about climate change are looking to lower their carbon footprint today, even if it’s not practical to switch off the power grids of municipal utilities or to use alternative energy sources to heat their homes.

There are many solutions to reduce carbon emissions and to balance the net carbon emission. Carbon offsets and carbon credits are two solutions.

What exactly are carbon offsets or carbon credits precisely?

Carbon Credits

Carbon credits are the ability to emit one million metric tons of CO2. To give an idea of what this is, if you took a typical vehicle between New York to Las Vegas The vehicle would release around one tonne of carbon dioxide during the journey.

The majority of carbon credits are used in cap-and trade systems, which imposes a limit to the carbon dioxide that companies can emit , as well as a market system where companies are able to purchase, sell or trade carbon credits.

What is the Cap-and-Trade Systems How Do They Work?

Companies that are part of these systems are rewarded with carbon credits. This means that they can take part in economic systems that regulate carbon emissions. The government usually determines the emission limits for each industry and sets the penalties for violations of the limits of emissions. Businesses receive carbon credits, which permit them to release carbon dioxide as an allowance towards the cap or, in some cases, they can buy carbon credits through auction. This is the cap, which represents the amount in carbon dioxide emissions an industry cannot surpass, and the allowance is a company’s portion of the permitted emissions.

Ideally, the cap for each industry will decrease in time, giving an incentive to strive for more emission reductions.

Companies are able to emit certain quantities of carbon dioxide depending on the amount carbon credits that they own. If a business emits less tons of carbon than predicted it is able to trade or sell the excess carbon credits it has to another business to make use of. They can also keep them to use in the future. If it decides to sell it’s credits, then the buyer company will be paying for its high carbon emissions by purchasing additional carbon credits.

What are some successful Cap-and-Trade Systems?

Here are a few instances of cap-and-trade programs that have been successful around the globe.

European Union: Europe participates in a cap-and trade program as part of Europe’s Emissions trading system. At the end of 2016, carbon emissions from cap-and-trade programs were lower by 26% than the levels they had seen in 2005 when the programs were first began.
China in 2017: with the assistance by the Environmental Defense Fund, China began the first phase of a massive national emissions market which incorporates various elements of the cap and trade system. This market includes more than 2600 companies across an area that has a population of over 250 million. Experts believe it will result in an enormous reduction on carbon emission in China which is the largest manufacturer of greenhouse gas.
California: California has a cap-and trade program that is the core of its policies to reduce emissions. The state has experienced an 8% drop in carbon emissions in the initial three years of the program’s existence and also has experienced an overall boom in its economy.

The purpose of Cap-and-Trade economies

The creation of this mini-economics of carbon credit trading provides an incentive for businesses to cut their carbon emissions so that they can reduce the operational expenses of their business. While companies might be seeking to mitigate the impact from climate changes, the primary result of reducing emissions in the cap-and trade system will boost the bottom line of a business.

The primary goal of companies who use carbon credits isn’t to cut greenhouse gas emissions, nor do they help with sustainable energy projects. Instead, the goal is to to be part of a market that helps reduce greenhouse gas emissions, by making carbon emissions that are excessively high costly.

Carbon Offsets

What exactly is carbon offset? Similar to a carbon credit carbon offsets represent one metric tons in carbon dioxide emissions. However, unlike carbon credits the carbon offset contributes directly towards supporting the sustainability of energy sources. If a customer is unable to lower their emissions from carbon, they can use carbon offsets to for the same amount reduced elsewhere.

A heating oil company may provide a carbon offset plan. With this program, customers are not provided with green fuels directly. They are still able to purchase the fossil fuels such as propane and heating oil. When customers buy an amount of fuel the heating company buys the same amount of carbon offsets in an energy-saving program.

What kinds of sustainable Energy Do Carbon Offsets Aid?

Carbon offsets are derived from green energy projects that are certified, like solar power projects wind farms, wind farms, methane capture operations in landfills and dairy farms, and also projects that plant trees or contribute towards preserving forests. Even though customers receive the fossil fuels in liquid form, buying carbon offsets can help keep these projects operating and permits project owners to build more of them. This can improve the air quality and lower carbon emissions.

Each carbon offset project that is certified must meet stringent standards to establish that it is legitimate and aimed at sustainable energy, or any other form of reductions in carbon. It is possible to purchase or trade carbon offset projects anyplace around the world and buyers can rest assured that they’re involved in projects that make a an impact in creating sustainable energy use and a cleaner world.

Utilizing Carbon Offsets to Get Carbon neutrality

Carbon offsets can help to make the energy consumption of a person neutral because for every single amount of emissions they create the consumer is paying to lower the emissions elsewhere. Producing sustainable energy will not eliminate the need for fossil fuels. However, carbon offsets may reduce the effect of a person’s carbon emissions to zero.

Fuel and heating companies aren’t the only ones using carbon offsets. Carbon offsets online companies permit consumers to estimate the carbon footprint they create from their daily activities such as taking a car to work or school and then pay for offsets of that carbon footprint.

If you are traveling by air you may also purchase carbon offsets that offset the carbon dioxide emissions from your plane. A typical round trip flight between the two countries and back releases more CO2 than many people produce in a single year. In the moment, however some airlines are purchasing carbon offsets on their own. Under an UN agreement airlines that provide international flights will be required to offset any carbon they emit from their flights.

Which one should you buy Carbon offsets and Carbon Credits?

If you’re looking to reduce cutting carbon emissions is it better to purchase carbon offsets or credit? Which is the best option for the average consumer and how do you gain the most value from your investment?

Carbon offsets and carbon credits each represent the emission of a particular volume of carbon in the air. Carbon credits, however, represent that right of emitting carbon. Carbon offsets are the process of producing some amount of sustainable energy in order to offset the use for fossil fuels.

The majority of carbon trading plans which include carbon credits, can be tangled issues involving huge technologically advanced firms which are usually multinational corporations. Because of the huge stakes at the stake carbon credits can be very costly.

Carbon trading programs are also available as businesses that conduct business in specific countries are legally obliged to take part in these programs. However, the companies who offer them may not have a real commitment to sustainable energy targets.

Carbon offsets, on other hand, happen because an energy company is looking to invest in renewable energy options that can mitigate reduce climate change and help to create the greener future of our planet. Thus, buying carbon offsets permits eco-conscious consumers to be a part of companies and projects with similar values. Carbon offsets are typically more affordable, as carbon offsets generally aim at lower-cost emissions reduction programs.

The benefits of buying carbon offsets

Carbon offsets can provide a variety of benefits.

Cost-effectiveness: Carbon offsets can be inexpensive. Customers can purchase offsets to offset their individual carbon consumptions, typically at a cost of several dollars per metric tons of carbon emissions. They can also participate in specific programs such as those offered by certain heating companies, in which companies pay to offset carbon emissions. Whatever the case the cost for the consumer is usually not a large amount.
Help for sustainable energy sources: Carbon offsets provide the advantage to invest in environmentally sustainable alternative energy sources. This helps keep these programs in operation. This also lets them invest in new technologies that could help make sustainable energy efficient and cost-effective.
Social benefits Carbon offsets offer more than only green energy. They can help in the creation of jobs, as well as provide education and training, and offer economic benefits to a wide range of communities across the world.
Affirming the value of eco-friendly practices: Typically an organization that offers an offset program for carbon has an commitment to combating climate change as well as preserving the environment in a healthy way. The decision to invest in carbon offset programs shows that you support these values.

The purchase of carbon offsets has benefits of helping the client’s preference for the energy project they want to support. Certain of the projects that carbon offsets usually support are those.

Tree planting: The earliest offset programs were focused on the planting of trees. Although planting new trees can have positive environmental effects that include increasing the biodiversity of the area and preventing erosion, it takes an extended time for the new trees to to effectively remove significant amounts in carbon dioxide out of the airusually between 10 to 20 years. Therefore, some carbon offset programs have turned to other initiatives which produce more immediate outcomes.
Wind farms: A lot of carbon offsets help wind farms, which generate renewable, non-emissions electricity. U.S. wind-power capacity increased by a staggering 431 percent between 2007 and 2017 and even although wind power currently generates around 3% of United States’ power, the Department of Energy estimates that number will rise to 20 percent by 2030 and to 35 percent in 2050. Alongside helping to lower carbon dioxide emissions, these farms are small and have low environmental footprints. Wildlife is able to thrive in the areas of wind farming.
Solar farms: A lot of carbon offsets are also used to fund solar energy projects, such as solar farms. A lot of homes and businesses utilize solar panels to generate electricity but massive solar power operations exist as well, like the solar array at Nevada’s Nellis Air Force Base -that has provided it with 25% of renewable poweras well as a number of privately-owned businesses. The amount of solar-powered infrastructure within the United States is enough to offset more than the 78 million tonnes of CO2 emissions.
Methane recapture Methane recapture is essential because methane is an even more powerful greenhouse gas that carbon, capturing up to 25 times the heat within our atmosphere. Methane-recapture initiatives typically focus on landfills where pipes absorb the methane that produced by the decomposition of trash and then send it to the burning for electricity or heating. Methane-recapture initiatives also operate on dairy farms. There, cows produce significant quantities of methane from their manure. According to WIRED magazine wrote, “Nobody’s quite figured out the best method to capture cow farts” however, methane-recapture initiatives are able to collect the manure, degrade it by utilizing bacteria, and then make biogas from it.

Carbon offsets, while they are a good idea, aren’t the best solution. In every carbon offset scenario consumers are still taking part in the use of fossil fuels. For example, in a heating company’s offsets for carbon, consumers continue to burn oil, release CO2 into the air. However, purchasing carbon offsets can encourage the creation and utilization of renewable energy sources. Although in the future sustainable energy could be widely used but for the moment, purchasing carbon offsets is a good start in this direction.