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The Pros and Cons of Carbon Offsetting

The film features 32 snowboarders who perform stunning tricks as they rip across the rough terrain of North America and Europe, Burton’s most recent movie One World is an epic celebration of snowboarding.

As a top sustainable brand and one whose customers rely on a healthy, healthy environment to pursue their passions, Burton realized that just making a great film was not enough. They also wanted to minimize the environmental impact of the many trips, snowmobile rides and other carbon emissions associated when making the film. As a Certified B Corporation, the company has a history of supporting climate policies and minimizing the environmental impacts of its products as well as operations.

In the course of One World, Burton worked in partnership with Bank of the West to minimize the impact of the production on the climate by purchasing carbon offsets a method that is widely used to help businesses and other organizations work to mitigate their environmental footprints. Burton and Bank of the West teamed up to aid in the sequestration of 563 tonnes of CO2 supporting a forest protection project along the Alaskan coast. It’s equivalent to taking all vehicles from the road for a year.

Emily Foster, Burton’s environmental impact manager, says that the company’s decision-making in this instance was a blend of optimism and practicality.

“We are looking forward to the day that people will be able to explore the world and follow their passions powered entirely with clean energy, however, we’re still not there as a nation,” Foster explains. “For emissions that we cannot eliminate today, we put our money into carbon credits that are of high-quality and verified which reduce greenhouse gas emissions and safeguard ecosystems. Carbon offsets may not be the answer, we employ them as a way to keep us accountable and be proactive while low-carbon alternatives emerge.”

Carbon offsets like Foster suggests the issue, aren’t a flawless solution, but they can be useful in the process of transitioning towards a non-carbon future. It’s impossible for us to turn off the lights and go away from fossil fuels immediately. Therefore, for the time being carbon offsets play a part of the equation as environmentally conscious and forward-thinking actors strive to build the foundation for a sustainable future.

We’ll look at a deeper understanding review of carbon offsets, what they are, the reasons they are important, arguments in favor of their use, as well as some of the criticisms made against carbon offsets.

What is Carbon Offsetting?

Carbon offsets are a method whereby funds are redirected to projects that reduce global emissions. People or companies often purchase carbon offsets, instead of decreasing their carbon footprints when emissions appear impossible to avoid, or combine both in order to make their efforts to reduce emissions extend.

Carbon offset projects can include effective stoves for cooking in villages, bio-gas production using organic matter, and a range of projects that aim to reduce deforestation and regenerating forests that have been damaged.

The procedure of certifying a project to be eligible for carbon offsets isn’t an easy task. Carbonbay is engaged in guiding project through the Byzantine regulatory maze which have been implemented as part of the United Nations’ Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) to ensure that not just emissions reductions are legitimate and legal, but also that there isn’t any existing funding that could be used for projects of this kind. This usually means that the projects are different from the norm and have a low chances of success without credits. Credits for emission reduction allow projects to get compensation for each metric tonne of carbon dioxide emissions that are avoided. They can be verified with CDM or other recognized standards such as The Gold Standard, and the Verified Carbon Standard (VCS).

“Carbon offset … assists environmental projects that don’t have funds by themselves.”

Carbon Offsetting: The Pros of Carbon Offsetting

Carbon offset can be beneficial at both ends It aids environmental projects that cannot get funds on their own and gives businesses a greater opportunities to reduce the carbon emissions of their operations.

There are many companies that can’t cut their carbon footprint as they’d like. In certain cases, this could be due to their footprint being already very small (e.g. software companies) however they would like to expand their reach. Other industries, like heavy equipment as well as ocean transport, do not have low-carbon alternatives to service their market in the moment. By assisting in the financing of projects to reduce emissions, businesses can help make more up for the emissions they cannot eliminate themselves.

Although most offset purchases are not required however, there are certain jurisdictions where offset purchases are required to conform to local regulations and standards to be able to avoid fines. Another benefit of using the offset method. It provides regulators with a means to enforce environmental regulations.

Some companies also employ offsets to prove that the majority or all of their operations are “carbon non-carbon” or “carbon positive.” They also provide an opportunity for these businesses to monitor their carbon footprint. A lot of consumers nowadays prefer to do business with companies that use offsets.

Carbon offset can be a valuable resource to projects that usually absorb carbon through forest growth or other methods, or reduce emission, for example, green energy production or energy appliances. By focusing on projects which will not be able to draw different types of financing like a unique project in a particular region and provide a viable alternative to traditional finance methods.

Once a project that is successful has been realized through offset and proved to be viable it’s usually more straightforward for similar follow-on projects to get funding from different sources.

Studies have proven offsetting to be a successful method to cut greenhouse gas emissions.

Pros and Cons of Carbon Offsetting

A variety of criticisms have been directed at carbon offsets as well. Certain of them are philosophical in their criticism of the idea that rich companies can purchase their way out of the carbon market, instead of taking greater responsibility for their carbon emissions. Others argue that they undermine the pressure for more aggressive collective action like carbon taxes. Are offsets letting polluters free of the burden too easily?

Others draw attention to more practical issues:

Some forests protected by offsets have been later found to have burned or cut down. This could be intentional on the part of those who were credited with the offsets.
Are the credit cards really needed and could the work be completed without the credits?
Are carbon measurements reliable, and can the companies that are monitoring these measurements be relied upon to conduct the right accounting?
What is the problem with fraud?
Is global warming taking place too quickly for carbon offsets to be beneficial?

There are valid questions to be asked here. Although no system is perfect However, these concerns have been identified and will be addressed in the future as carbon standards and methods evolve.

Carbon offsets aren’t intended to replace immediate action but instead as a supplement or, in certain instances, the only possible option. The aviation industry, for instance is a major user of offsets because there is no feasible method for commercial aircrafts to fly without using fossil fuels. As part of an international program called CORSIA the airlines will be able to stop the emission levels for 2019 and 2020 and have pledged to offset any increases in emissions after 2021.

In the case of forests disappearing following the qualification to offsets issue was addressed in the most recent VCS standard, which permits payments to be made in the case of carbon sequestration by forests that have already taken place, for instance over the past decade. To mitigate further risk, a portion of credits that are paid are put aside to be placed in “pooled buffers” to help cover unexpected loss, similar to the insurance policies.

The way we measure is also changing. The renewable power projects tend to be the easiest to quantify, as it is only necessary to take a look at the meters. Land-use projects like forestry could be more difficult to measure However, the models are becoming more accurate and new technologies such as GPS and satellite imagery drones are now useful to provide a better image of the amount of carbon that is still stored.
How to Find and Offset Your carbon footprint

Carbon offset is commonplace in many businesses. However, banks have partnered with tech companies to engage consumers in. For instance, Swedish fintech startup Doconomy is collaborating together with Finnish Aland Bank to help regular consumers understand the environmental impact on the majority of purchases.

The Aland Index calculates the carbon footprint of each item purchased by consumers using more than 200 parameters. Paula DiPerna, who was responsible for establishing the first global trading system for cap-and trade carbon credits in the year 2003 describes the index “a game changer” which converts the intangibles into an amount in dollars. The consumer can then utilize this value to offset the carbon emissions produced by the item, making the purchase carbon-neutral.

“The index was developed … for the purpose of make the world heard in every pocket and at every point of sale.”

Helena Mueller, chief of Aland Index Solutions and co-founder of Doconomy

As per Helena Mueller, head of Aland Index Solutions and co-founder of Doconomy, “the index was designed to create a common standard for climate-related issues in all aspects of personal finance management, establishing a reliable global standard and also to give the world a voice every pocket and at every point of sale.”

Customers are able to access the index using the DO application. It’s available only in Sweden however, Bank of the West teamed along with Doconomy for the purpose of bringing it into the US to be part of the 1 percent Planet account1,2. Through the mobile banking app it is possible to use it is possible to use the Aland Index is applied to transactions to calculate automatically the carbon footprint of transactions that are made using the 1percent for Planet debit card.

“The carbon footprint of a product is shown in kilograms and/or kilo carbon produced as well as Carbon’s social costs, i.e. the true cost of a product or service when the negative effect of climate change are taken into account to be accounted for” states Mueller. “The bank in this instance, Bank of the West, is then able to assist their customers in understanding the carbon footprint of transactions in terms of the day or week, month and the entire year.”

Armed with this data the individual consumer can control the carbon footprint they leave behind. In the end, you cannot alter the things you can’t measure.