So this is my second post of the series ‘Is carbon Trade/market Justifiable’. To read part 1 please Click Here.
List of useful links exclusively for the carbon offset is listed here.
On this article, I will focus on carbon offset.
What is Carbon Offset?
Carbon offset in simple term is reduction of emission of GHGs or carbon dioxide from one place/activity in order to compensate the emission made at other side. For layman to understand, it’s like doing something good somewhere because you did something bad at other place. Carbon offsets is often measured metric ton of carbon dioxide equivalent.
Carbon offsetting is actually a business tactic where carbon credits are used by companies to compensate their emission and meet their carbon reduction goal while also supporting their move to low carbon economy.
How does Carbon offset work?
Business and people around the world are becoming increasingly climate aware and they are understanding ‘green image’ will give them competitive edge. To maintain their green image in society and globe, such business and people buys carbon credits. Carbon offset companies play a pivotal role in this. Carbon offset companies calculate carbon foot print and set price of carbon dioxide equivalent. Those interested in buying credits buys them. Such monetary are used to invest in programs that actually offsets an equal amount of emission. Projects like reforestation, geo thermal plantation, clean energy production and carbon sequestration.
Those for whom ‘emission reduction’ come as heavy and unaffordable can buy credits and still maintain their carbon neutrality status while those innovative companies and people benefit from their actual carbon emission habit.
Pros of Carbon Offset:
It is best option for those for whom their individual/companies carbon emission reduction come handy. Further more their contribution will be used to make renewable energy sources and helping those in need.
(Photo from nativewenergy.com)
According to The Guardian “Traditionally, much of the criticism of offsetting relates to the planting of trees. Some of these concerns are valid, but in truth most of the best-known carbon offset schemes have long-since switched from tree planting to clean-energy projects – anything from distributing efficient cooking stoves through to capturing methane gas at landfill sites. Energy-based projects such as these are designed to make quicker and more permanent savings than planting trees, and, as a bonus, to offer social benefits. Efficient cooking stoves, for instance, can help poor families save money on fuel and improve their household air quality – a very real benefit in many developing countries.”
This video link clearly depicts the true advantage of this system:
Cons and Critics:
But talking about its advantages and considering this as solely ground breaking solution will be false judgement. Like with every other systems, it has loopholes.
Most famous loophole being ‘Greenwash’. An individual or company will earn green praises without actually contributing anything that can be termed green. This is mainly to maintain the status quo and flourish the reputation while doing business in ‘as usual way’.
Another striking criticism is development of this psychology “We can continue our unhealthy habit of emitting the way we used to that too with great satisfaction as we have already bought the offset and are doing no damage to environment.” Indication to those offset buyers who continue to run in their private jet, travel using excessive fossil fuels and companies that give no an further thought to convert from fossil fuels to clean energy.
Well according to Kevin Anderson , “My objection to offsetting and the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) — the state-sanctioned version that operates under the Kyoto Protocol — is directed at the claims that they reduce emissions to levels at or below those that would have transpired had the activity being offset not occurred. That spurious argument neglects the various possible impacts of an offset and the repercussions of these for emissions in the longer term.”
According to The Guardian “Offsets with Voluntary standards Certification offer extra credibility, but that still doesn’t make them watertight. Heather Rogers, author of Green Gone Wrong, visited a number of offset schemes in India and found all kinds of irregularities. One VGS-certified biomass power plant refused to allow her around, though staff there reported a number of concerns such as trees being chopped down and sold to the plant, which was designed to run on agricultural wastes.” This implies the possibilities of scam and counterproductive activities.
Carbon offsets are good option. It’s a fruitful way to minimize one’s carbon footprint by assisting other reduce their emission. It’s true for few celebrities and some big name, due to the threat, reducing emission can come handy. In such scenarios, carbon offset can play a pivotal role. Funding those environmental friendly projects which otherwise might not have been possible will benefits needy people’s life by many folds.
Saying this, I am still quite skeptics over the efficiency and justifiable use of those offset funds. Check and balance should clearly be maintained. Investment should be directed in those projects which otherwise would not have been possible without offset funds. There is irregularities in price of carbon offset. That should be maintained and uniformity should be created. Even for those who buy the offset, certain criteria should be developed. Like if they only buy the offset, the price of carbon should be raised and if they actually minimize their own emission in days to come, carbon price for them should be levied at normal rate.
To put it in nutshell, carbon offset is not the only method of carbon emission. But it’s certain that with strong regulation and uniform carbon pricing at justifiable rate, it can somehow promote environmentally friendly projects. Strong and tactic intervention of international bodies and commoner is required to make this system functional and reach to those in need.
How did you like my post? Please leave the comment and drop your ideas. Also commetn any topics that you would like to read related to carbon market. 😉
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(featured image was form http://www.greensteve.com )