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Why are carbon offsets important?

By Jeff Cocking

Have you noticed how bad the pollen has been this year? If you have bad allergies, you definitely know, and suffered the consequences. As science has shown, the earth is heating up. The temperature changes are so drastic that it’s quickly worsening our climate, including habitats and environmental changes, like increased pollen. Scientists have attributed this to greenhouse gases and other pollutants which humans produce and release into the atmosphere. These emissions cause global warming, or in other words, a gradual increase in Earth’s average surface temperature due to trapping heat in the atmosphere. So, why are carbon offsets important to allergy suffers?

Carbon dioxide is one of the primary greenhouse gases that is causing climate change. It’s released into the air when we drive our cars, use electricity, or purchase products made with a byproduct of carbon emissions.  As the levels of carbon dioxide continue to rise, it creates a “blanket” around Earth that traps heat from the sun. This trapped heat makes the Earth’s atmosphere warm and disturbs the planet’s climate.

We can do our part in mitigating climate change by reducing our carbon footprint. One way to do this is through carbon offsets.

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What is a carbon offset?

A carbon offset is any project that removes the same amount of carbon released into the atmosphere, balancing out current emissions. Carbon offsets are measured in metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent. They can be generated through several different activities, such as renewable energy projects, energy efficiency projects, or forestry projects. However, because we have far too much carbon in the atmosphere, we will need to reduce emissions rather than just offset them to reach the climate change goals of net-zero by 2050.

Why are carbon offsets important?

Because our planet is heating up, carbon offsets are a significant and important step in reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Carbon offsets help us do that by funding projects that reduce emissions elsewhere. This is important because it not only reduces our carbon footprint but it also helps offset the emissions of others.

Voluntary market versus mandatory market

There are two main markets for carbon offsets: the voluntary market and the mandatory market. The voluntary market is made up of individuals and businesses that choose to offset their emissions voluntarily, while the mandatory market is required by law.

The most well-known example of a mandatory market is the European Union Emissions Trading System (EU ETS), established in 2005. Under the EU ETS, companies have a limited amount of credits, like an allowance of how much carbon they can emit. If they reach their carbon limit, they must purchase more credits from other companies that haven’t used their credits for each ton of carbon dioxide they emit. These credits can be traded on a carbon market, and companies that reduce their emissions can sell their unused allowances to others. Or companies can invest in the voluntary carbon market to offset emissions.

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Does carbon offsetting work?

Yes, carbon offsetting can be an effective way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. However, it is important to make sure that the offsets you purchase are from verified projects that meet certain standards. Otherwise, your offset may not actually result in a reduction of emissions.

Carbon offsetting is effective in the way that it helps build habitats and forests, which do capture CO2 to balance out the emissions that happen every day. However, everyone needs to reduce their CO2 emissions while using carbon offsetting. While carbon offsetting helps, it isn’t the sole solution. It works for now because it isn’t currently feasible to eliminate all carbon emissions.

What are some examples of carbon offsets?

Carbon offsets come in many different forms, but the key similarity is that they capture carbon or avoid the production of carbon.

  • Reforestation: Planting trees to ensure forests stay healthy is important because trees absorb carbon dioxide and distribute it back into the soil. Carbon in soil helps maintain a healthy ecosystem because it enriches the soil.
  • Agriculture: Farmers can use a no-till method to keep carbon in the soil. Over-tilling releases carbon into the atmosphere.
  • Renewable energy: Replacing fossil fuels with clean, renewable energy, like wind farms, solar panels, or hydropower.
  • Waste management: Capturing methane that waste in landfills releases.
  • Efficient Appliances: Upgrading to energy-efficient appliances.

 

How do you calculate your own carbon offset and ensure it’s accredited?

You can easily calculate your own carbon offset by using a carbon calculator, which will estimate your emissions based on your activities. We’ve built one that you can use for free!

Once you know your emissions, you can purchase offsets from accredited projects that meet your needs. We have multiple to choose from to help you offset your carbon emissions.

We check for certification from a third-party organization, such as the Climate Action Reserve or the Verified Carbon Standard, to ensure that we work with accredited carbon offsets.

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Can I purchase carbon offsets as an individual?

Yes, you can! Though you can’t purchase carbon offsets from the carbon offset company itself, you can find reputable third-party companies that act as intermediaries. Like us!

Power Wizard is a part of the NextEra Energy Resources organization, which has been honored over the last 13 years as one of the world’s most ethical companies. You can buy with confidence and trust.

Power Wizard can help with your carbon footprint

Power Wizard is a service that helps our customers find the best electricity plan for their home. And, we can help you find the best carbon offset projects to help with your carbon footprint. We offer offsets from a variety of verified projects, including renewable energy, forestry, and energy efficiency. We can help you calculate your carbon footprint and purchase offsets that meet your needs. Sign up to help our planet today!

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