Each day, more individuals and businesses are becoming aware of the fact that they can do something about global warming by buying carbon offsets. Each human who has electricity in their home, who drives, or travels by plane is contributing to global warming. Their carbon footprint is a measurement of how much carbon dioxide a person is causing to be emitted into the air. For instance, driving a car produces a large amount of carbon dioxide that is part of a person’s carbon footprint. Buying carbon offsets can balance out the amount of carbon dioxide, the principal greenhouse gas, by contributing to clean energy that displaces fossil fuel energy. An individual or business can take responsibility for the impact that their activities have caused by purchasing carbon offsets.
In the United States, cars and trucks produce 25% of all U.S. carbon emissions. Products that are shipped a long way and household energy also produce a lot of carbon dioxide. To calculate your carbon footprint, you can use one of the many online calculators that help you determine how much carbon dioxide your use of energy emits into the air with the intent of buying carbon offsets in this same amount to “pay” for the damage your actions have caused to the environment. Although carbon dioxide is not removed from the atmosphere, carbon dioxide is prevented through carbon offsets. Somewhere in the world, an equal amount of carbon dioxide to that in your carbon footprint is prevented. For instance, a wind farm may be purchased in India with funds from carbon offsets that prevent carbon dioxide pollution because wind farms produce green energy, or clean energy, that balances out the carbon dioxide that you have caused by driving and other activities that emit carbon dioxide.
Various organizations sell carbon offsets, and they have different ways of reducing carbon dioxide somewhere in the world. They sponsor projects that assure the buyer that their purchase will be used in a way that will reduce carbon, and many allow the buyer to choose the type of project that they would like to invest in. There are three general categories that most carbon offset organizations provide, which are reforestation, energy efficiency and carbon credits, and renewable energy and methane projects. With reforestation, carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is actually reduced. This is the only way to reduce carbon dioxide because other methods, although worthwhile, prevent further carbon dioxide from entering the atmosphere. Energy efficiency and carbon credits promote use of fluorescent light bulbs and other projects that lower the amount of fuel emissions that enter the air. Renewable energy and methane projects reduce the amount of energy produced by fossil fuels such as oil and coal. Because methane gas is around 23 times stronger as a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide, some projects capture methane gas in landfills and eliminate it completely.
To make a wise carbon offset purchase, it is good to check to see if an offset provider’s portfolio has been audited. Auditing makes sure that your money was used wisely and that the provider is using it for the purpose that you designated. An objective third party will verify that projects have really taken place that will reduce carbon dioxide emissions. High-quality carbon offset providers use measuring tools that are accepted by standards such as the U.N. Clean Development Mechanism or the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. In addition, there is a lot of information online that explains carbon offset projects. It is possible to purchase carbon offsets at online sites after checking to see that the one you choose will truly make a difference in the world.