After everything we’ve done to the environment, it’s about time that we reduce our impact before natural calamities come running after us.
But how? How do we counteract the damages we’ve done? How do we balance our carbon emissions? How do we create impactful and sustainable development projects?
Have You Heard of CO2 Offset?
Carbon Offset – more commonly known as CO2 offset – is a method of reducing the environmental impact of individuals and companies by investing in environmental projects around the world. The main goal of this scheme is to balance out carbon footprint and reduce future emissions of greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere.
CO2 offset usually involves rolling out clean energy technologies, purchasing carbon credits, or directly soaking up offset CO2 emissions through planting trees. For every CO2 offset bought, one tonne of carbon dioxide is sworn to be removed from the atmosphere – or hindered from ever reaching the atmosphere. Advocates believe that this can help protect the environment, as well as preserve the wildlife and communities dependent on it.
So, When Did the Idea of CO2 Offset Begin?
The idea of carbon offset came from the 1997 Kyoto Protocol – an international treaty among developed countries to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Simply put, they placed a monetary value on the carbon footprint the countries used. The money they pay in turn is used to fund projects that can either reduce or prevent greenhouse gas emissions in other parts of the world.
What are the types of carbon offset projects?
There are several types of CO2 Offset projects – ranging from forestry (where carbon credits are gained by growing trees and removing CO2 from the atmosphere) to energy efficiency, intermediate technology, and renewable energy projects (which aim to prevent CO2 emissions).
To better understand, let’s take these CO2 offset projects one by one:
One of the most popular CO2 offset projects is reforestation. The concept is very simple: people can either donate to tree-planting projects or do the planting themselves.
Aside from absorbing emissions, nature-based solutions such as reforestation have numerous benefits to the environment. One, it can support more plants and animals. Two, it helps keep water and air clean. Three, it protects communities from natural disasters like floods. Lastly, this could also foster a more sustainable economy.
Sadly, some people find tree CO2 offset projects inefficient given the timeframe of the climate crisis we are facing. The capacity to store carbon through this kind of project is very limited. Practically speaking, we can never plant enough to cover the rampant fossil fuel use at present.
And this is not the only limitation of the tree CO2 offset project. Assuming that people really get involved in tree planting, how many of these seedlings could mature into full grown trees? How many acres of trees are needed to offset CO2? What are things that could influence their carbon cycle impact? How do we account for wildfires and bug infestations?
Reforestation is a great way to help the environment. But to reduce our carbon footprint as soon as possible, companies and individuals can also turn to other CO2 offset purchases that support renewable energies and energy efficiency.
To reduce greenhouse gas emissions, improving energy efficiency can make a big contribution. This can be done by using less energy without compromising the service provided. One great example of this is the use of compact fluorescent bulbs as a replacement for the traditional incandescent bulb. Both produce the same amount of light, but the former takes less electrical energy. Similar examples include the installation of water-saving plumbing, converting to LED lights, and upgrading appliances.
Oftentimes, energy efficiency is associated with energy-saving measures – the act of totally forgoing the service rather than changing the efficiency. Like, walking to designated places instead of driving there or bringing grocery bags instead of putting purchases inside those brown paper bags.
Another CO2 offset project that aims to reduce the amount of greenhouse gas in the atmosphere is replacing fossil fuel-derived energy with clean, renewable energy. Examples of this include wind farms, solar panels, and hydroelectric powers that produce electricity for the community.
Similarly, this could also be done by providing families with clean energy cookstoves that can help in the reduction of the amount of CO2 produced from cutting down trees and using them as woodfire for cooking meals.
What are the Organizations that You Can Support to Offset CO2 Emission?
Even a little amount of money can go a long way when it comes to offsetting a carbon footprint. A CO2 offset purchase is an affordable way to fund projects that reduce greenhouse gas emissions. However, beware of money-grabbing companies online that capitalize on the idea of CO2 offsets without actually using people’s money to help the environment.
To avoid scams, here we have listed the organizations that you can support to offset CO2 emission:
Committed to protecting the health of the oceans, SeaTrees aims to restore, replant, and protect coastal ecosystems around the world. Their projects focus on the reduction of climate change impacts, protection of endangered species, and creation of sustainable jobs that would alleviate poverty and support education.
SeaTrees projects include the restoration and protection of Mangrove Forests (Biak Island, West Population, Indonesia), Kelf Forest Regeneration (Palos Verdes, California), Southern Cardamom Ridge-to-Reef Watershed (Cambodia), and Coral Reef and Sea Grass Projects.
For two decades now, NativeEnergy has been working with hundreds of organizations in order to develop authentic solutions to the challenges brought about by greenhouse gas emissions. They aim to strengthen businesses and contribute to the progress of the world without compromising environmental sustainability.
All projects of NativeEnergy are geared towards increasing renewable energy, supporting smallholder farms, improving the health of suppliers and their families, protecting biodiversity, promoting regenerative agriculture, and taking more long-term positive impacts on the world.
Treedom is an online platform that allows individuals to fund trees, have someone plant them on their behalf, and then follow the trees’ growth online.
You may not be familiar with them but since 2010, Treedom has been able to plant a million trees in Africa, South America, and Italy. Not only sponsors can help plant trees, but they are also able to directly help the community of local farmers – environmentally, socially, and financially.
Treedom assures that this CO2 offset purchase is worth it because the trees that they plant in agroforestry projects promote virtuous interaction with the species in the locale. Those who are involved in the project also undergo training and receive financial support.
Compared to the aforementioned three action-based projects, Cloverly offers more technical support to businesses and companies who are aiming to achieve carbon neutrality. Cloverly API bridges the company to the locals and high-quality carbon offset projects through their ‘Sustainability-as-a-Service’ platform.
Cloverly does the CO2 offset calculation and purchase of offsets and Renewable Energy Credits in real-time. Cloverly API features include emission calculation (estimate carbon offset), diverse offset portfolio (filter project type and network to reputable suppliers to sequester), match offset (match location, cost, and project type before proceeding with the activity), transparent reporting (generate carbon impact estimate), flexible API integration, and verify carbon offset (registration and tracking).
Through Cloverly, companies will be at ease with their purchases and be assured that they are helping the environment.
Why should you invest in these co2 offset projects?
Now is the time to act – with all the solutions that are made available to us, including these CO2 offset projects. Knowing how big climate change is, we also need to make our ambitions bigger. Aside from CO2 reduction, carbon offset projects are also beneficial to local communities and biodiversity.
According to studies, carbon offsets have already condensed the number of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere by more than 1 billion tonnes. And if companies and businesses – big and small – continue to help fund these initiatives, we can do more. We can do better.
Can I reduce my carbon footprint on my own?
While climate change is one of the biggest threats to the beautiful places that we want to visit, tourism is also one of the major contributors to the problem. As traveling becomes more affordable and accessible to everyone, carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions are also generated – through flying on airplanes, going on boat cruises, taking trains, and even the air conditioners in accommodations.
To reduce impacts on your next trip, maybe you can try more environment-conscious choices like:
- packing light (according to studies, the lighter the load, the less carbon is used)
- flying directly to your destination (avoid numerous layovers to help save more aircraft fuel)
- eating locally-produced products to minimize food waste (at home, you can plan ahead your meals and freeze excess food to avoid throwing leftovers)
- going vegan or cut back on your meat and dairy consumption
- checking out accommodations that utilize renewable energy
- buying food supplies in bulk and if possible using of own reusable container
- walking towards your destination if possible
- as much as possible, avoiding the fast fashion bandwagon
As a first step, you can determine your carbon footprint by doing CO2 offset calculations. You can use this free online tool to help you determine your impact. Are you up for this challenge?