Carbon Offset in 2022: All You Need to Know

In 2022, social activities like travel will resume – but what does it mean for carbon offsets in 2022?

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2022: the year the pandemic finally subsides, and long awaited activities like concerts, travel, and social events return. 🎉

Many, including myself – have predicted the return of the roaring 20s: an era where we will socialize, spend money, and engage in society as whole more than we normally would. 💃

Life will once again begin to be viewed as a short gift 🎁meant to be unwrapped and enjoyed in the present moment, instead of the mere survival tactic we all inevitably succumbed to at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.

So, what do the resumption of these social activities and pleasurable expenditures mean for the environment and carbon offsetting in 2022?

❗ Before talking about the carbon emission changes to come in 2022, what is carbon offsetting?

A carbon offset is a method of trying to balance out one’s production of carbon footprint 👣through the purchase or investment of contributing to another environmental project. 🌍

The primary mission of these projects, often taking place in developing countries, is to reduce carbon emissions and promote environmentally friendly habits. 

A carbon offset may sound similar to a carbon credit – but are they really the same thing?

❓ How is a carbon credit different from a carbon offset?

A carbon credit is an exchangeable request that represents an amount of carbon dioxide being removed from the atmosphere in attempts to counteract a carbon footprint that’s already been made.

Whereas a carbon offset is when a company producing a high rate of carbon emissions financially contributes to an alternative project dedicated to benefitting the environment – rather than taking action to reduce their own carbon footprint themselves.

The concept of a carbon offset can be most easily understood this way – financially contributing, or nearly bribing another company to clear your guilty conscience of your previous mal impact on the environment. 

Imagine you are organizing a large event or party 🎈 in the midst of a pandemic like COVID-19. In attempts to ensure all of your guests feel safe in the midst of the sanitary crisis, you provide your guests with meals pre-packaged in plastic, and opt for plastic cups instead of glass.

It could have been possible to host a conventional buffet, 🍲 but it would have taken extra effort – someone to constantly sanitize the utensils, high touch surfaces, and dispose of used dishware immediately after use. 🍽️

However, you feel guilty after your party and the atypical amount of plastic that went to waste. So, you search for alternative projects or organizations that commit to reducing carbon emissions on a daily basis, such as planting trees or sourcing renewable energy. 🌳

After your financial contribution to an organization that will provide a positive impact on the environment, you don’t feel as bad about the amount of plastic consumed – you feel you have neutralized, or “offset” the carbon footprint you left, ergo the term, “carbon offset”. ⚖️

A carbon offset can be purchased in advance to counterbalance the anticipated harmful activity, whereas a carbon credit can only be obtained after a carbon footprint has been produced – such as a recent flight via airline travel. ✈️

❓ How does carbon offsetting work?

Carbon offsetting works when a company or individual invests in a third party or organization that will positively impact the environment or contribute to the reduction of carbon emissions.

The company or individual can seek the assistance of a broker to remove a portion of carbon from the atmosphere, often in another part of the world. The company or individual will determine the carbon footprint they made, and then the environmental organization will propose a fee depending on the data.📈 

The company or individual can then decide to partially, financially fund the environmental project – therefore offsetting their previous carbon footprint.👣

So, you’re ready to invest in an environmentally friendly project to offset your own carbon emissions – but what are the four types of carbon offset projects?

📃 What are the four types of carbon offset projects?

1. Forestry, protection and conservation 🌲

One of the most popular carbon offsetting activities is reforestation and conservation. It is an accessible environmental project, as it is based all around the world – and it is relatively easy to calculate how many trees to plant 🌲in correlation to the carbon footprint left behind by the company purchasing the carbon offset. 

Though forestry and conservation projects aren’t the most financially feasible, they are the most beneficial – as preserving ecosystems and wildlife is crucial for companies to demonstrate corporate sustainability and social responsibility. 

2. Renewable Energies 🌤

Another common carbon offsetting activity is sourcing renewable energy. For instance to promote solar, wind or hydro sites across the world. 

Contributing to sourcing renewable energy 🔋helps to create jobs and decrease dependency on environmentally detrimental fossil fuels.

3. Communities Support 🙋

Another carbon offsetting activity are community projects 🤝that strive to promote energy-efficient tactics or technology to third world countries. 

These projects promote sustainability in underdeveloped countries, which ultimately help them to pave their way out of poverty. So, not only do carbon credits or carbon offsets help the environment – but they can financially benefit struggling communities, and create a brighter future for those societies. 🌏

4. “Waste to Energy” Projects 💫

The fourth most common carbon offsetting project is a, “waste to energy” project. This means turning methane, landfill gas, agricultural waste, or other typically harmful substances into usable electricity. 🔌

It is often thought of as one of the most creative and innovative ways to offset a carbon footprint, and similar to community support projects – also benefits not only the environment, but society. 

❓ How much does carbon offsetting really help the environment?

While carbon offsetting is a good counter-active measure to take in efforts to protect the environment, it ultimately doesn’t get to the root of the problem: individuals and companies who produce a high rate of carbon emissions. 

Carbon offsetting has presented itself as a way to compensate for carbon footprints already made, when more advantageous actions should be taken to prevent pollution in the first place. 

Unfortunately, global warming has grown irreversible to the extent that to decrease its deleterious impact, companies would have to both reduce their carbon emissions and invest in carbon offsets. 

This is all in alignment with the concept explained before, with the party that made use of too much plastic. Their contribution to carbon offset can’t reverse the plastic that they have already used.

Carbon offsets are by no means fruitless, but they shouldn’t 🙅be the primary focus in attempting to prevent further pollution. 

Since we haven’t deemed carbon offsets completely ineffectual, but still lacking the full capability to counteract irreversible carbon emissions – what are the pros and cons of investing in a carbon offset?

❗ What are the pros and cons of carbon offset?

 The pros of carbon offset 🎈

The pros of carbon offset are that they are helpful, just not to the direct root of the problem that provokes pollution. 

Carbon offsets contribute to organizations and projects that are dedicated to benefitting the environment on a daily basis, such as finding renewable energy resources, planting trees, and helping communities in poverty run more efficiently to eliminate energy waste. 🌏

While these activities are all nothing but beneficial, they do not halt the unrepairable impact of carbon emissions already present in the atmosphere. 

The cons of carbon offset 🥏

The cons of carbon offset are similar to what has been previously been explained – which is the notion that carbon offsets to not reverse the damage already made to the environment and global warming.

Businesses have grown to believe that if they invest in carbon offsets, it will remunerate the environmental damage that has already been made. The bitter reality is, carbon offsets will never be enough to truly contribute to the fight against global warming – both preventative measures and carbon offsets need to be implemented to evoke environmental change.

However, despite this – the world is still no closer to implementing all of the actions necessary to lower carbon emissions, especially in 2022 as the world resumes to life pre-pandemic. 

Take any major airline, for instance – such as United or Delta. Their advertisements ensuring their contribution to carbon offsetting and a customer’s ability to purchase carbon credits do not change their already increasing flight schedule. Especially in 2022, as the world opens up due to decreasing COVID-19 restrictions – travel contributing to pollution of all kinds is only expected to increase. 🗺️

Companies like United and Delta 🛫don’t want to miss out on this lucrative opportunity in 2022, and while they may be committed to caring for the environment – they can’t ultimately halt all air travel. 

They don’t want to stop business, but they want to assure their customers of their concern for the environment. The easiest answer, without rearranging their entire business model or risking grave financial concern, is to invest in carbon offsetting.

These companies, such as major airlines, would need to prioritize the planet 🌎over consumer demand In order to elicit a substantial, beneficial change in the environment. 

Preventing further pollution would have to precede the desire to travel. 

Meaning, the airline could only operate one flight from Paris to New York a week instead of providing a daily flight – but evidently, in 2022, as the demand for travel and other social activities not only resume but grow in demand, this isn’t likely to happen anytime soon.     

Carbon offsets are helpful, but they aren’t the world’s way out of global warming.       

 

❓So, when should you refer to using carbon offsets?

Carbon offsets do not reverse or cease previous or current carbon emissions, but they don’t cause any harm whatsoever. Therefore, whenever an individual or company should contribute to carbon offsets whenever capable of doing so financially.

A company or individual should first prioritize the creation of a solid Environmental Management Plan, and once this is intact and proving itself effective – carbon offsets should then be purchased as a supplement in supporting the well-being of the environment.

💨 What can you or your company do to offset your carbon emissions?

Here a few easy tips:

1. Calculate Your Carbon Footprint 📝

You can’t aim to reduce your carbon footprint if you and your company don’t even know how much you are contributing to global warming. 

Good goals require numerical data and measurable incentive. In other words, it’s easier to reduce your carbon footprint if you can calculate how much pollution you are contributing to now instead of making a generalized vow to, “be more environmentally friendly”. 

If you calculate your carbon footprint, you can then set an attainable numerical goal, track your progress, and upon successful completion – set a new, more difficult environmental goal. 

2. Define a Strategy to Reduce Your Company’s Carbon Emissions 🎯

Carbon offsets aren’t preventative measures for business activities that create a large carbon footprint. It’s futile to offset GHG emissions if the company doesn’t decide to take some concrete action or effort to abstain from contributing to carbon emission. 

Every business is different, but there really are little things you and your company can do to every day. 

Take some to develop the best approaches, even if small, to help mitigate GHG emissions. 

3. Offset Your Residual Emissions 👍

After you’ve calculated your carbon footprint and have developed a strategy to help improve your company’s impact on the environment – then you can look into investing in carbon offsets. 

Making a contribution to carbon offsets should only come after your company has outlined the necessary, concrete actions to take to decrease their own carbon emissions. 

So, what are the steps you and your company need to take in order to offset your residual emissions? 

It’s important to first estimate the budget needed to offset your CO2 emissions. 

Money is a resource, and it is best to use it to decrease your company’s own carbon footprint first before financially contributing to other environmental projects.

Next, aim to find a portfolio that matches with your needs and objectives. All carbon offsetting projects are good, but it’s best to find a project that is in line with your company’s own mission in order to cultivate a stronger sense of unity within your company, consumers, and society. 

Finally, make sure to communicate your commitment to the carbon offsetting project you have committed to. It’s important to demonstrate how the carbon offset you have chosen to invest in aligns with your company’s mission.

🍀 What about Greenly?

Greenly is proud to assist clients with identifying which carbon offset investments would work best for them, and to help find the carbon offsetting projects most financially affordable. 

If reading this article about carbon offsets in 2022 has made you interested in reducing your carbon emission to further fight against climate change – Greenly can help you!

Greenly can help you make an environmental change for the better, starting with a carbon footprint assessment to know how much carbon emissions your company produces.

Click here to learn more about Greenly and how we can help you reduce your carbon footprint.

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