Just after I came back from my holiday and started hunting around for a way to make me feel better about all the flying and driving I had done, out came an avalanche of articles pointing out that carbon offsetting is completely useless.
One article pointed out that tree planting could actually increase global warming if they are planted in the wrong place. Another article claimed that a number of the companies selling carbon credits are ripping customers off, and then there are voluntary and certified carbon accreditation schemes… can you trust a voluntary scheme? is the certification worth the paper (recycled hopefully) it’s written on? And finally, as part of my research I discovered that different carbon calculators gave differing amounts of carbon dioxide released by the same flight, why is this?
In a nut-shell, carbon offsetting is a method of cutting carbon dioxide in the atmosphere that you can’t influence by paying a company to do it for you. The companies that do this for you usually have several different methods or reducing carbon dioxide, and they range from planting trees to giving away energy saving lightbulbs to developing countries.
There are several points to consider when you are offsetting Carbon, the first is would the carbon have been saved if you didn’t pay money into the scheme? There is no point in paying someone to plant a tree that they were going to plant anyway. The second is the scheme viable? the company formally known as future forests reforsted several areas but because they weren’t managed the forests died again when they finished.
I have also read that the carbon trading scheme was so poorly organised that for the first two years they have allocated far too many carbon credits resulting in a crash in carbon trading market. I suppose this means that if you are spending your carbon offsetting money on carbon credits to ‘retire’ then you get more for your money, but in actual fact there were so many extra credits around that it made no difference to the cost of carbon credits and didn’t stop any pollution in industry.