What is carbon offsetting?
Carbon offsetting is a term that is trending in today’s world faced with the need to reduce or counterbalance greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) that are causing climate change. The term is widely used in United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) led climate change mitigation programs such as the clean development mechanism (CDM) which allows emission-reduction projects in developing countries to earn certified emission reduction (CER) credits each equivalent to one tonne of CO2. These CERs are then traded or sold, and used by industrialized countries to meet part of their emission reduction targets under the Kyoto Protocol.
The CDM mechanism introduces flexibility in how industrialized countries meet their emission reduction limits targets. CDM represents the compliance market of carbon trading as it is created and regulated by mandatory international carbon reduction regime under the UNFCCC Kyoto Protocol.
Voluntary carbon markets
However, on the other hand, voluntary carbon markets function outside of the compliance market. They enable businesses, governments, NGOs, and individuals to offset their emissions by purchasing offsets known as VERs (Verified or Voluntary Emission Reductions). These carbon markets are small because their actions are on a voluntary basis (voluntary buyers i.e. corporations, institutions & individuals) and unlike the compliance markets where demand is created by a regulatory instrument. VERs tend to be cheaper than those credits sold in the compliance market (e.g. CERs).
The carbon offset is a financial instrument that enables an individual or organization to emit a given amount of GHG emissions, but counter-balances those emissions by investing in measures that remove the equivalent volume of GHG emissions from the atmosphere. Carbon offsetting is based on the premise that GHG emissions have the same net effect regardless of where they’re released.
What are potential projects for carbon offsetting?
Renewable energy projects are the most popular projects for carbon offsetting as they help to reduce or mitigate carbon emissions. Also, based on the premise that GHG emissions have the same net effect regardless of where they’re released; you can be engaged in carbon offsetting through working in clean energy projects in any part of the world. Good potential carbon offsetting projects include switching to green energy (solar PV, wind, biogas etc), adopting energy efficiency and conservation measures, switching to sustainable transportation (Electric vehicle (EV), public transportation, hybrid, and sustainable bio fuels), adopting recycling programs ( composting & recycling) and adoption of eco products (e.g. switching from an old appliance to a new efficient appliance). All of these projects are good candidates for carbon offsetting projects depending on the amount of carbon to mitigated or reduced.
Carbon offsetting with going solar.
Going solar projects are good options for organizations or individuals that are interested in carbon offsetting. These projects could be off-grid or on-grid depending on the amount of carbon emissions you intend to install. GHG emissions can be determined by conducting a GHG emission audit, or by using a carbon calculator.
Also, there are various online tools in the worldwide web that can help you track your actions or choices to determine what impact they will have in carbon offsetting. A good example is yousustain.com. This website provide users with an action calculator to show you the impact of our choices in different categories such as switching to green energy (solar PV, wind, biogas etc), adopting energy efficiency and conservation measures, switching to sustainable transportation (Electric vehicle (EV), public transportation, hybrid, and sustainable bio fuels) etc.
When it comes to going solar, good solar pv projects are great in reducing carbon emissions while reducing dependence on fossil fuels. However, when it comes to carbon trading projects, only emissions reductions that are real, additional (wouldn’t have happened without the carbon market), measurable and verified will qualify as high quality off-set credits.
Using a solar panel cost calculator from the EnergySage or Pick My Solar can help you determine your solar potential, solar costs, financing and other aspects of going solar, including how much carbon you can offset with your solar power system. Solar panels are good for reducing your carbon footprint because they don’t emit any emissions when being operated. Hence, depending on whether you are switching from a fossil based energy or you want to make great environmental impact with going solar. Learn more about solar and sustainability by checking the article: Is solar good for sustainability?
If you are looking for a carbon calculator, you can access it here: