Offsetting Our Carbon Emissions

by | Energy Conservation, Sustainable Energy

According to the World Wildlife Fund’s Living Planet Report 2012, the pressure we are putting on the planet is resulting in the declined health of our forests, rivers and oceans. We are living as if we have the resources of an extra planet at our disposal. We’re using 50%more resources than the earth can provide, and unless we change course that number will continue to grow fast. By 2030, even two planets will not be enough. The Report finds that the U.S. has the fifth largest ecological footprint in terms of the amount of resources each person annually consumes.

Those are pretty powerful and sobering statements. Although many of us make efforts to incorporate elements of green living into our day to day activities (such as recycling, reusing and reducing), it’s difficult to significantly lower our carbon footprint all on our own. Every one of us, regardless of age, gender, nationality etc. impacts the Earth and its resources. We produce waste and consume energy through daily activities like driving, cooking, watching TV and cooling or heating our homes. And most of the energy involved is generated through the burning of fossil fuels such as coal, natural gas and oil, which results in the release of greenhouse gas emissions such as Carbon Dioxide (CO2) into the atmosphere.

Carbon offsets are a good choice to help you manage your impact.

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A carbon offset is a credit for greenhouse gas reductions achieved by one party that can be purchased and used to compensate (‘offset’) the emissions of another party. They are typically measured in tonnes of CO2-equivalents (or CO2e) and are bought and sold through a number of international brokers, trading platforms and retailers (like Just Energy).

Where do the carbon offsets/credits come from?

The credits come from environmental projects specifically designed to prevent greenhouse gas emissions or remove greenhouse gases from the atmosphere. These include:

  • The removal of CO2 from the atmosphere and the storage of it in a “sink” e.g. forestry;
  • The reduction of CO2 emissions by replacing fossil fuels with renewable energy sources e.g. wind and solar energy;
  • The capture of greenhouse gases and the alternative use or destruction of them e.g. methane capture at landfills;
  • The reduction of emissions through energy efficiency, e.g. reducing the amount of fuel or electricity needed.

Overall, carbon credits can be a simple and effective way to take responsibility for the greenhouse gas emissions we create through our day to day activities. And the more we invest in clean energy projects, the more that will be directed into research to further improve efficiency, and the greater the impact this will have on the growth of this economic sector AND the health of our environment.

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