postheadericon Carbon Offsets – what’s that?

350.org is an international campaign that’s building a movement to unite the world around solutions to the climate crisis—the solutions that science and justice demand.  The mission surrounds the number 350—as in parts per million CO2.  If we can’t get below that, scientists say, the damage we’re already seeing from global warming will continue and accelerate.  But 350 is more than a number—it’s a symbol of where we need to head as a planet. to rise to the challenge of the climate crisis—to create a sense of urgency and of possibility for our planet.

Carbon Offsets are a good way to help move toward the magic number, 350.

How do carbon offsets work? Why it makes a difference and how you can offset your contribution.  (Information provided by Green Irene.)

carbon offset is a credit sourced from a project or technology that seeks to reduce or sequester carbon dioxide (CO2). Carbonoffsetting provides a powerful way to address climate change. By purchasing offsets, you help fund a project that prevents one ton of greenhouse gases (GHGs) from being emitted for each ton that you have caused. Carbon offset providers sell the GHG reductions associated with projects like wind farms or methane-capture facilities to customers who want to offset the emissions they caused by flying, driving, or using electricity.

Examples of projects or technologies that qualify for carbon offsets are: 

1. Renewable Energy Generation: This includes solar, wind, hydro, geothermal, biomass, biofuels, and marine energy. It is equivalent to purchasing renewable energy credits (RECs).

2. Forest Sequestration: This involves the planting of new trees to absorb carbon dioxide over time (i.e. reforestation and afforestation).

3. Energy Efficiency Projects: This involves the substitution of old, inefficient appliances, lighting fixtures, and structures with more energy efficient ones.

Over the past few years, the carbon offset market has grown rapidly, directing $705 million in 2008 to carbon-reducing projects worldwide. As the market has expanded, it has also matured-and finding a trustworthy offset provider is easier than ever. Before you turn to offsets, it’s important to reduce your climate impact first A good mantra when it comes to reducing your carbonfootprint is: reduce what you can, offset the rest, and then repeat. Once you’ve taken steps to shrink your emissions, follow these steps to offset what’s left.

Do the Math

The first step to offsetting your climate impact is to calculate how many tons of GHGs your activities emit. Once you know how many tons of GHGs you’ve added to the atmosphere, select a certified offset that will reduce GHGs by the same amount. Youroffset purchases can support a variety of carbon-reducing projects. Buying offsets will help you direct much-needed capital to worthy projects that will keep greenhouse gases out of the atmosphere. Then, return to the beginning of the reduce-offset-repeat cycle, and continue looking for ways to reduce the climate impact of your household, workplace, neighborhood, and community.

There is an ongoing controversy about the climate impact of air travel. In addition to the carbon dioxide that planes emit directly, they leave behind other emissions that ultimately contribute to global warming, in a phenomenon known as “radiative forcing.”

Some carbon calculators multiply a flight’s emissions by a radiative forcing index (RFI), but unfortunately, they multiply by a factor of anywhere between about one-and-a-half and three, resulting in different totals.

So what’s an eco-conscious traveler to do? Until a uniform RFI is in place, it’s best to err on the side of too much offsetting, rather than too little-after reducing your air travel as much as possible. Use a carbon calculator that incorporates a radiative forcing index. If a carbon calculator offers a check-box to “include radiative forcing” in its calculations, choose this option.

What To Look For In Good Carbon Offsets

* Integrity: Make sure that the projects that your carbon offsets are funding are legitimate and actually reducing carbonemissions. They have to be real projects with measurable results.

* Accuracy: The methodology used to calculate carbon offsets must be recognized. Examples of recognized methodologies include the EPA Climate Leaders’ methodology and the World Resources Institute Greenhouse Gas Protocol. Methodologies also should be approved by a third-party organization.

* Verifiability: Because you can’t see or touch a reduction of greenhouse gases, it’s important to know exactly what reduction you are purchasing, and that the reduction wouldn’t have happened without your purchase. To ensure that projects are verifiable, purchases and sales should be verified by an independent auditing organization. This will ensure that your dollars match the results obtained in the funded projects.

Offsets vs. RECs

When you buy an offset, you should know for sure that your purchase caused a new reduction in greenhouse gas emissions that wouldn’t have happened otherwise, and not all renewable energy qualifies. Renewable energy credits (RECs) are typically sold from existing projects to give electricity customers a green power option. But renewable energy that customers purchase to offsettheir GHG emissions is held to a different standard. Buying a REC does not ensure that your purchase caused a measurable reduction in greenhouse gas emissions that wouldn’t have happened otherwise.

BeGreen Carbon Offsets

We sell BeGreen Carbon Offsets, which allow you to offset the emissions of your home, car, and travel. BeGreen CarbonOffsets meet the criteria above and are therefore a safe option for individuals to offset their carbon emissions.

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