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We all do our best to limit the carbon dioxide or greenhouse gas emissions in our daily lives. Many people make New Year’s resolutions to drive less, fly less, walk and bike more, or buy local and green. Still, all of us will inevitably create some emissions and want to do something to counteract our negative impacts.
One thing we can do is purchase carbon offsets, which are designed to make up for greenhouse gases produced in everyday life or business. The idea is that offsets contribute to decreasing future emissions in an amount equivalent to the emissions produced. Here’s how they work: organizations apply the money from your purchase toward carbon-reduction projects around the world. The most common types are: renewable energy, forestation, biodigestion and energy efficiency projects. Projects range from anaerobic biodigesters for manure, to wind farms and truck stop electrification projects.
Unfortunately, the offset industry is not very well regulated, so identifying reputable organizations with legitimate projects is crucial to ensuring that your money is well spent. One thing to look for is third party certification (some certifiers include: American Carbon Registry; Clean Development Mechanism; Climate Action Reserve; Climate, Community and Biodiversity Alliance; EcoLogo Program; The Gold Standard Foundation; Joint Implementation, ISO-14064-1:2006; Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative; and Social Carbon). These certification systems verify that the projects are real, additional (they would not have existed otherwise), permanent, verifiable and free of negative impacts to areas surrounding the project. The projects should also be monitored and audited over time.
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