Happy Earth Day folks! This year as Earth Day was approaching I started to think more and more about the impact travel has on the environment. It’s no secret that we all need to be doing more to protect the earth. I believe that it starts with looking at the changes we can make as individuals. Today I’m taking a look at carbon offsetting – addressing what it is and the benefits and drawbacks associated with it.
What is Carbon Offsetting?
Carbon offsetting is when individuals invest in environmental projects to help neutralize their carbon footprint. It’s one of many ways to counteract the greenhouse gases that are emitted when you fly from one place to another. While it’s usually linked to travel, there are many who use offset programs to neutralize their day to day activities that have a negative impact on the environment. Businesses also offset their emissions in hopes of neutralizing their footprint.
If you’re interested in other ways you can engage in sustainable travel, check out my 16 responsible tourism tips!
Benefits of Carbon Offsetting
Now that we understand how offsetting works, what are some of the benefits?
A step in the right direction:
If you’re hoping to start making a positive environmental change, looking into offsetting programs is a step in the right direction. By doing your own research and looking for projects that will contribute to creating a positive change, you open yourself up to learning even more. Offsetting flights is just the beginning. It will make you rethink whether or not you should jump on a plane or look into other modes of transportation. I also found that it made me more conscious of other things I could change to become more sustainable.
An opportunity for businesses to reduce their carbon footprint:
Businesses don’t always know how they can work towards becoming more carbon-neutral. This could be the case if their footprint is already small or in industries where low-carbon options aren’t available – such as ocean shipping and heavy equipment. Investing in these projects will help them reduce emissions that their business can’t make up for.
Securing funding for environmental projects:
There are heaps of environmental projects that aren’t able to secure funding. Offsetting programs allows these projects to get their feet on the ground and work to fight against the continuous environmental factors we face. By contributing to offsetting projects, you provide people with an opportunity to plant more trees, protect land and more.
Reducing greenhouse gases:
While we’re certainly a long way away from saving the planet, reputable sources have explained that contributing to offsetting programs can be effective at reducing greenhouse gases. It may take some time to get there but reducing carbon should always be the goal! If you invest in the right projects, you can be doing a small part to help Mother Nature.
Drawbacks of Carbon Offsetting
Of course, while there are many benefits to offsetting your emissions, there are a few things you should take into consideration.
Misconceptions about climate change:
Due to the mass amount of information regarding climate change online, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to know what information you can trust. Even if programs are legitimate, we have to consider how long it will take for them to have a lasting impact on our environment. It takes years for trees to start removing carbon dioxide. You also need to consider that carbon is constantly being released into the atmosphere with each plane that takes off. It’s not enough to simply purchase offsets and hope for the best. The climate crises we face is real and needs to be addressed now, not in the future.
Not all programs are effective:
One major concern when it comes to these offsetting programs is how effective they really are. It’s also incredibly important to take a deep dive into the programs you choose to purchase from. If you don’t know exactly where your money is going, it may not be used for what the company claims. Invest in programs that are certified, trustworthy and have a good reputation.
Failing to take responsibility for individual actions:
As someone who takes flights at least a few times a year (at a minimum), I began using offsetting programs to try and neutralize my carbon. What I didn’t realize is that for some, offsetting flights can justify taking flights whenever instead of considering other transportation options. Of course, some countries don’t have the infrastructure in place to support using trains or buses in replacement of flights. In those circumstances, it’s understandable that flights can’t always be avoided but offsetting won’t solve our climate crises.
Should You being Offsetting?
After taking a look at the many pros and cons related to offsetting, where do you stand? Do you think these programs have a real impact on the environment? All I know for sure is that we all need to look at what we can be doing as individuals and start making choices that we can be proud of.