Carbon Offsets: Are They The Solution For Climate Change?

So I live abroad and travel by plane quite often to visit my family. Many times, I find myself wondering how much pollute by flying home.

I know it’s a lot. So, I get a free guilt trip along with my plane ticket.

Well, my family is waiting for me to visit and I can’t really avoid the plane part. But now there is a way to compensate the guilt – and the greenhouse gas my flight emits! YEY!

Offset your flight carbon emissions

So what on earth are carbon offsets?

This thingy called carbon offsets has become more and more popular as a way to compensate greenhouse gas emissions produced by any human activity.

They usually target CO2 emissions, hence the name.

Carbon offsets are not tangible, they are not material goods.

Think about them like toppings you get on a nice gelato. Only that the gelato might be a plane ticket or a piece of clothing. And the sprinkles and chocolate sauce are these climate credits given to rural development, tree-planting programs, or clean energy investments, to name a few.

Many companies use them as a way to reduce their carbon footprint, or even to become carbon neutral, like the brand The Reformation (carbon neutral since 2015) with their campaign Carbon is Cancelled.

Many airlines give you the option to purchase along with your flight ticket carbon offsets that compensate exactly the amount of CO2 your ticket creates.

But you don’t need to buy new clothes or go on holiday to buy offsets. There are organizations that let you purchase climate credits to help in a project of your choice among the ones they offer. Like these ones I told you about in my other post about carbon offsets.

Their goal is compensating the CO2 you create with a part of your lifestyle – how much you use your car, how carbon-heavy your diet is,…

So the whole idea is that you should already be doing your best to lower your carbon footprint and use the offsets as extra help for our planet.

So, why you should buy carbon offsets

I have known people who gift their loved ones a star for their birthday – meaning they pay to name a star after them.

If people pay for that, why wouldn’t you pay to save our actual planet? — just asking idk.

There are so many reasons I could go on and on for days, but mainly:

  • You’re compensating the CO2 that you unavoidably create. Maybe you take public transport to get around, which already helps a lot. But those emissions are a part of your footprint still…but you have places to go, and you need to get there somehow, right?
  • You’re investing in clean energy projects. Many of the offsets translate into planting trees, but these will have effects in the long haul (10-20 years, when the trees are fully grown). That’s why there are other projects aiming to invest in clean energy installations for areas in need, or even in some cases developed countries.
  • You’re helping local communities. Many of these projects are based in developing countries, which translates into extra income for small farmers and some extra help taking care of their environment.
  • You’re investing in future: for the environment, the communities involved, and the whole planet.

BONUS REASON: they can be as cheap as 9$/10€ for a ton of CO2 WHAAAAAAT?! C’mon, that’s the price of a frappuccino, you can do it!.


How to find a trustworthy carbon offset company?

I already did my research so that you don’t have to and listed some of the programs that caught my eye the most in this post.

But in case you want to find the one that fits you best, here you have some handy tips to help you find legit and non-scammy carbon offsets:

  • Transparency is key. Make sure you can find yearly reports or something that verifies that they’re doing the work they claim. Also, they should be transparent about the amount of emissions they have saved, how the money you give is invested, and a long etc. They also must list the projects they are working on. You can research if the projects they list on their websites are real or not.
  • Make sure they are verified and certified. A third party can confirm that the person or program receiving the money is real and is using it for the ends they promised.
  • They have to be permanent. The seller must guarantee that the trees they’ll plant won’t be cut down in 10 years, or that the wind generators installed will be really of use.
  • They must be additional. “Additionality” is a tricky concept, but let’s say that the GHG reduction produced by the offset has to be added to the business-as-usual scenario. This means that the reduction must be real and effective, and that the company/landowner that receives the money cannot use those CO2 credits as a wiggle room to pollute elsewhere.

So what are your next steps?

  1. Learn your carbon footprint
  2. Decide what do you wanna offset. Just a part of your lifestyle? Your flight for Christmas holidays?
  3. Choose the perfect offsetting project
  4. TADAAAAA. Thanks to you we’ll be one step closer to a sustainable future.

Now that you have all this nice info, it’s your time to make a move. I already got my climate credits for my Christmas flight, what will you offset?


What do you think?