Recently the Ecology Global Network spoke of carbon footprints: a way of assessing the amount of greenhouse gasses released into the environment by our activities, travels, consumption, etc. – typically indicated by a measurement (in tons or kg.) of the amount of carbon dioxide discharged into the atmosphere. To mitigate these emissions, we have carbon offsets: a way of compensating for these emissions.
The concept of the carbon offset is a result of the Kyoto, Japan United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change of 1997, where a protocol was introduced to fight global warming by stabilizing greenhouse gas emissions. To date 191 nations have committed to reduce emissions of the major culprits – carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, and sulphur hexafluoride – plus hydroflourocarbons and perfluorocarbons.
But the premise of carbon offsets is less retribution than restitution; they represent solid investments in projects that significantly reduce or eliminate harmful emissions. Through the purchase of carbon offsets you can help build a wind farm in Turkey, support a hydro-power project in China, subsidize a sustainable enterprise in Kenya that eliminates continued deforestation, or endeavors in Asia that capture usable methane from landfills.
And carbon offsets can be tackled on both an industrial and personal level. While corporations might underwrite energy efficient projects, individuals also seek to compensate for their personal emissions. Native Energy has a neat calculator to help measure the impact of specific individual activities, plus solutions. Other such firms are Atmosfair, Climate Friendly, Carbon Footprint Offsetters, ClimateAvenue, and Shift2Neutral.
Don’t have the dough to shell out for carbon offsets? Consider your own mitigation project. Plant a tree. Clean up a beach or empty lot. Carpool with a neighbor. The whole idea is to minimize and mitigate your greenhouse gasses.
That’s good carbon, and good karma too.