When discussing carbon footprints, climate impact and greenhouse gas emissions, carbon offsets and offsetting is a highly debated topic. The purchasing of a carbon offset is essentially an investment into a climate mitigation project that is reducing greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere.
There are two main types of offsetting projects; carbon reduction and carbon avoidance. Carbon reduction projects are sequestration projects, that are actively ‘sucking up’ carbon and reducing the quantity in the atmosphere. The Mai Ndombe Reforestation Project listed on our carbon offsetting page is an example of carbon reduction. The purchase of one carbon offset from this project is the equivalent to one tonne of carbon being sequestered.
Carbon avoidance projects are renewable energy generation projects that have zero, or little carbon emissions. The creation of each renewable energy unit is then equated to one tonne of emissions avoidance. This is then referred to as a carbon offset credit, which can be purchased to offset one tonne of carbon.
Both types of carbon credit can be used by individuals or businesses to offset their emissions and claim carbon neutrality. Offsetting however, should be used a last resort, and reducing your carbon emissions should be the main focus. Offsetting is a quick fix and a cheap method of climate action, but it is not a long-term solution to climate change.