Understanding Carbon Offsetting

Published by Georgia Crump on

understanding the carbon offset market

What is carbon offsetting 

Carbon offsetting allows individuals and companies to balance out their carbon footprints by investing in carbon reduction projects. Put simply, it means compensating for your emissions by reducing emissions elsewhere. 

What is a carbon footprint?

In case you aren’t familiar with the term, your carbon footprint is a way of conceptualising your impact on the planet. Measured in tonnes of CO2, it represents the sum total of carbon emissions from your daily life. 

Almost everything we do releases greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, from flying to shopping. When greenhouse gases are released into the atmosphere, they block radiation.

As a result, the earth’s temperature increases. This causes climate change, which means more heat waves, flooding, fires, and other catastrophic consequences for the environment. In order to prevent climate change, we need to collectively reduce our carbon footprints.

So now you understand your carbon footprint, you’re probably wondering: what can I do to reduce it? This brings us to carbon offsetting. 

Carbon offsetting projects

Climate change is a global problem, so it doesn’t matter where your emissions are released or reduced. This means you can support carbon reduction projects all over the world to reduce your emissions.

There are two types of carbon offsetting projects: emissions reduction and emissions prevention:

Emissions Reduction

Emissions reduction involves reducing greenhouse gases by planting trees or protecting areas of forest. This is because trees take CO2 permanently out of the atmosphere as they grow. Emissions reduction can also include more advanced carbon sequestration technology, such as methane and carbon capture, where gases are removed from the atmosphere and locked underground.

Emissions Prevention

Emissions prevention projects are all those which prevent future emissions from being created. This includes clean energy projects like wind farms and solar panels, as creating renewable energy reduces the need to burn fossil fuels, which release greenhouse gases.

carbon reduction project in Cambodia (source: Gold Standard)
Climate solutions include switching to cleaner cookstoves in Cambodia (Source: Gold Standard)

At Treepoints, we donate to a mix of emissions reduction and emissions prevention projects, as both form part of the ongoing fight against climate change.

For more details about different types of carbon reduction projects, our friends at Project Drawdown have created this great resource detailing different climate solutions. 

What is a carbon credit?

When we talk about carbon offsetting, what we mean is purchasing carbon credits. These are a way of quantifying amounts of greenhouse gases emitted or removed from the atmosphere. One credit represents one tonne of CO2 (or equivalent greenhouse gas) emissions removed from the atmosphere.

For project managers, selling carbon credits is a way of funding green technology and environmental innovation. This is especially important in developing countries, where getting funding for environmental projects is often difficult.

Individuals and companies can purchase these carbon credits to balance their emissions, supporting carbon reduction projects all over the world.

If you offset as much as you emit, you become net carbon neutral. This means your overall emissions are zero.

What is the carbon offset market? 

You may have heard people talking about the carbon offset market and wondered what this was. In fact, there are actually two carbon offset markets. The first one is known as the compliance market. This carbon offset market is for companies, governments, and other organizations who are legally obliged to comply with caps on their CO2 emissions. 

The second one is the voluntary carbon offset market (the one we’re concerned with in this article). This market is for individuals and companies to purchase carbon offsets to mitigate their greenhouse gas emissions. This includes emissions from transportation, electricity, and other sources. When we talk about offsetting our personal carbon footprint, we’re referring to the voluntary carbon market. 

What is the role of carbon offsetting services? 

Once you have done everything you can to reduce your carbon emissions through lifestyle changes, carbon offsetting is a great way to reach net carbon neutrality

However, there are so many different carbon offsetting projects out there and so much information available, it can be hard to know where to start. And many of us have such busy lives that we put off doing the research and end up not offsetting at all. 

This is where carbon offsetting services like Treepoints come in. These organisations simplify carbon offsetting for individuals, usually through a subscription membership. In return for a regular donation, they take care of the research, project donations, and carbon offsetting on your behalf.

Carbon Offsetting with Treepoints

Treepoints is a carbon offsetting service that rewards you for offsetting your carbon footprint. Our mission is to make climate action simple for everyday individuals and businesses.

The process is simple:

  1. Calculate the size of your carbon footprint using our carbon calculator
  2. Select the subscription tier that matches the size of your footprint
  3. Offset your carbon footprint, supporting amazing projects around the world.

It’s as simple as that, we take care of the rest on your behalf, saving you time and hassle!

Earn Treepoints for fighting climate change

Every time you offset your footprint with a donation, you earn Treepoints. You can think of these as like airmiles, except your reducing your carbon footprint instead of adding to it. You can spend these on the Treepoints rewards platforms with cool eco-friendly brands like Brewdog beer and Grind coffee.

These companies are helping to reduce our impact on the planet by offering sustainable alternatives to the products we rely on in daily life. This ranges from recycled plastics to compostable coffee capsules to ethically sourced beeswax candles. 

Treepoints projects

Each month, Treepoints donates to carbon reduction projects around the world on behalf of our members. This ranges from distributing solar cookstoves to refugees in Chad to reforestation initiatives in Panama. You can see a complete list of Treepoints projects here.

Transparency is at the heart of everything we do, and we publish a visible record of all donations made to carbon reduction projects on behalf of our members. You can see this on the Treepoints public impact ledger.

Join Treepoints now and start doing your bit for our planet.