Why should I offset?

A carbon credit, sometimes called a carbon offset, represents the certified reduction or removal of one tonne of carbon dioxide equivalent (tCO2e) from the atmosphere. It’s equivalent to the average monthly carbon footprint of someone living in Europe.

Carbon offsetting is the purchase of carbon credits, generally in an amount equivalent to the carbon emissions that your lifestyle or business has created. After making every effort to reduce your emissions as much as you can, purchasing carbon credits is a way to be accountable for your climate impact and take climate action beyond your own area of influence. And by supporting high impact projects, you not only “offset” your emissions can help communities on the front lines of climate change grow in a sustainable way.

Carbon offsetting empowers you to be accountable for your unavoidable climate impact by funding the certified reduction of greenhouse gas emissions through climate protection projects elsewhere in the world. The finance you provide by purchasing carbon credits helps drive the transition to a low-carbon economy.

The science behind carbon offsetting schemes is based on the fact that climate change is a global problem: where a tonne of carbon dioxide is emitted or reduced is irrelevant for the atmosphere in scientific terms. This means that a tonne of CO2e reduced in a cookstove project in Kenya has the same environmental value as one reduced through a wind project in China or an improved agriculture project in the United States. 


The global carbon budget indicates that everyone must reduce their own climate impact. However, the commitments that companies and governments have made so far leave a huge "emissions gap" that puts us on a pathway to dangerous levels of global warming.  

By funding emission reductions through carbon offsetting, you help close this emissions gap, making it more likely we can stay within the 2C limit scientists tell us will help us avoid catastrophic effects of climate change. 



It’s smart to critique any action that is positioned as a way to tackle one of the most pressing concerns of our time. However, carbon offsetting has been surrounded by a number of misunderstandings. 

Some claim that purchasing carbon credits does not provide an incentive for people to change behavior and reduce emissions; people can offset and maintain a carbon intensive lifestyle. It's true that offsetting alone will not solve climate change. Organisations, governments and individuals all need to make changes to reduce their carbon footprints. But in our current world, however much we try to reduce our footprint some emissions are unavoidable. You still need to get to and from work. You need to heat your home and 100% renewable energy is not yet available in your area. The food you eat undoubtedly has at least some carbon footprint. 

If you’re faced with making a carbon-intensive choice or not, offsetting should not convince you that a poor choice is suddenly better. Rather, offsetting truly unavoidable emissions empowers you to take responsibility for the emissions you can’t reduce. If you must take a flight, for example, offsetting your flight is much better than doing nothing. 

Purchasing emission reductions from projects that support sustainable development in vulnerable communities ensures that offsetting also contributes to climate justice, improving the lives of those least responsible for the problem and least economically equipped to adapt to the changing conditions caused by climate change. This helps contribute toward meeting Sustainable Development Goals such as no poverty (SDG1), good health and well-being (SDG3), gender equality (SDG5), clean water and sanitation (SDG6), affordable clean energy (SDG7), decent work and economic growth (SDG8), life on land (SDG15) and of course, climate action (SDG13). 

We all have a role to play in the fight against climate change. Your actions, however small, can have a profound impact when combined with thousands of others wanting to make a difference. By being conscious of the choices you make, their effect on the environment and taking responsibility for unavoidable emissions through climate projects that deliver sustainable development benefits you can feel good knowing you’re doing your bit to help save our planet!