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Carbon Offsets

Category: Carbon Offsets

A carbon offset is a tradable instrument that represents the reduction or removal of one metric tonne of carbon dioxide equivalent. Carbon offsets fund projects that reduce greenhouse gases, ranging from reforestation to renewable energy investments. Offsets can be bought and sold to transfer climate benefit between entities. Carbon offsets represent a unit of carbon dioxide equivalents and are different from RECs.

Benefits

  • Easy short term solution to reach carbon neutrality.
  • When done correctly, offsets can fund sustainable projects worldwide.
  • Offsets are a mechanism to fund the most cost efficient emissions reductions, regardless of location.

Challenges

  • Offsets can be hard to manage and money may be lost to the middleman.
  • Additionality is hard to quantify.
  • If projects are far from campus, there may not be a strong connection to the institution.
Carbon Offsets

Impacts

  • GHG Impact

    Large

    Offsets can mitigate a lot of CO2.  

  • Economic Impact

    Small Net Cost

    This is a purchase with no return on investment.

  • Feasibility

    Doable

    Easiest way to immediately reduce net emissions.  

  • Timeline

    < 1 year

    Offsets can be bought at any time. 

  • Maintenance

    Low / None

     Once paid for, it’s out of sight and out of mind.

  • Publicity

    That's cool

    Campus community may not be well informed.

Experts

  • Ruby Woodside Senior Manager, Climate Programs Second Nature Contact