Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Carbon Offsetting 101

The US has only 5% of the world's population, but produces 25% of the greenhouse gas emissions

If the US continues its current rates of CO2 emissions, while India and China further industrialize, the CO2 in our atmosphere will increase dramatically. This climate change will have real consequences for the U.S. and the world, such as increased droughts and floods, threats to biodiversity, additional sea-level rise (Pew Center on Global Climate Change)

This issue requires many types of solutions, offsetting is one of them.

What are offsets?
To "offset" is to implement a project that reduces the level of green house gases in the atmosphere in order to offset your production of CO2.

Climate Trust is a non-profit organization in Portland Oregon that is currently the largest buyer of offsets in the US. You can offset your car travel or air travel or other CO2 generating activity with them by calculating that with

How do carbon offsets work?

We can offset CO2 by increasing energy efficiency in buildings, by planting trees, and by generating elecricity from renewable sources like wind and sun.

When you choose an organization like or, or, your money funds projects such as wind farms that reduce carbon emissions

When you buy a carbon offset it is important to know where your money is going. So do your homework by surfing the sites. I am partial to based in Maryland. They support renewable energy AND energy efficiency AND reforestation projects.

Sustainable Travel International
and Continental Airlines recently announced plans to offer customers the option to participate in a carbon offsetting program. Hopefully other airlines will follow.

Bottom Line:
The average household produces 7.5 metric tons of carbon dioxide per year. The average 5 hour flight creates 1.23 metric tons of CO2. Offsetting is an important piece of the green solution.

Happy green trails,

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