Carbon Offsetting Explained

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Carbon Offsetting Explained

We keep hearing about Carbon Offsetting and how we should all be doing it but what exactly is it, how does it work and how on earth do you ‘calculate’ your carbon footprint? In this journal entry we aim to give you all the facts in a brief, informative overview.

Let’s Go….

What is it?

The Dictionary definition:

‘compensating for carbon dioxide emissions arising from industrial or other human activity, by participating in schemes designed to make equivalent reductions of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.’

In other words, by carbon offsetting you are contributing towards an environmentally positive project to cancel out the negative impact your lifestyle (eg. flying) has on the environment.

How does it work?

You calculate your carbon footprint (what?! Don’t panic, see our guide below), reduce what you can and offset what you can’t.

How much does it cost?

 

As the guardian wrote: “Offset schemes vary widely in terms of the cost, though a fairly typical fee would be around £8/$12 for each tonne of CO2 offset. At this price, a typical British family would pay around £45 to neutralise a year’s worth of gas and electricity use, while a return flight from London to San Francisco would clock in at around £20 per ticket.”

How to calculate your carbon footprint:

Carbonfootprint.com has a useful calculator broken into sections such as home/flights/rail/car etc. and it lets you type in what you use in a typical 12 month period and then calculates the CO2 in tonnes.

For example, I put in the amount of electricity, oil and wood I use to heat and light my 3 person house and it told me that I used 6 tonnes of CO2e and then I was given the option to click on a link to show how I could offset it. It showed that I could pay £36 to offset all 6 tonnes and invest in their Global Portfolio which invests in positive climate initiatives all over the world.

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What type of projects are there?

Treeplanting, Reforestation, community projects in developing countries, emission reduction projects, cooking stove projects in developing countries, hydro electricity.

What carbon offsetting projects can I check out online?

Forest Carbon leads the way in voluntary carbon woodland creation in the UK. Through the planting of 7.5 million new trees in the UK (and a total of 9 million globally) since 2006 our partners’ projects are removing nearly 2 million tonnes of CO2 from the atmosphere, as well as providing a host of other benefits to society, including flood mitigation, river improvement and public access.

​These are just a few examples of current ways you can connect with carbon offsetting projects. TAKK particularly loves the Sea Trees project, part of Sustainable Surf. Sustainable Surf is a Californian non-profit aiming to use surfing to transform the planet’s health (yes, you can see why TAKK feels a connection here!).

The Sea Trees website encourages support from both individuals and brands:
Sea Trees partners with brands and community projects to support amazing initiatives to support and nourish areas of mangroves (5x more efficient at dealing with CO2 than land based forest); Kelp Forest; Seagrass; & Coral.

” Through a combination of ancient wisdom, modern science and business, we can speed up the Earth’s natural healing mechanisms to repair our planet in real-time. We will also create jobs and livelihoods that maintain healthy ecosystems for the future. ” (Sea Trees website)

Sea Trees partners with brands and community projects to support amazing initiatives to support and nourish areas of mangroves (5x more efficient at dealing with CO2 than land based forest); Kelp Forest; Seagrass; & Coral.

Why isn’t everyone Carbon Offsetting?

Although carbon offsetting has become increasingly widespread recently, there are some who think it is a waste of time. It can be seen, by some, as a way of assuaging guilt for an ‘un-eco’ lifestyle.

In other words, offsetting can be a way to justify why one lives a negative impact lifestyle, rather than cutting back on impactful activities. The website www.responsibletravel.com is very vocal about why offsetting doesn’t work and points out that offsetting won’t be counted towards the EU climate reduction targets. They go on to say:

“Carbon offsets sum up all that is wrong with our approach to tourism and the climate crisis. They perpetuate the idea this crisis does not prevent unlimited growth with old and highly polluting technology; shifts the moral responsibility for carbon reduction to someone else (not the type of behaviour we need to encourage); and finally there is the small matter that they don’t work.” (www.responsibletravel.com)


So…To Offset or Not Offset?

At TAKK we believe that any contribution to positive environmental projects has to be a good thing and, with the increased public awareness of how our habits need to change, the combination of Offsetting and better habits will hopefully make an impact in the 10 years we have to turn things around.

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