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Saturday 2 November 2019

A Guide to Carbon Offsetting

The climate emergency has been at the centre of the news over recent months, and rightly so. With travel having a heavy environmental footprint and tourism accounting for 8% of global emissions, seeing and travelling the world and the impact that has on the world can no longer be ignored.

We can choose to try and avoid air travel, instead opting for buses and trains, and this should always be our first place to look, but with so many people under both budget and time constraints this isn't always possible. With travel being one of the greatest and enriching experiences we have, finding ways for us all to travel more consciously is important, but this also means we need to change how we see travel as well, appreciating the journey to a destination can also become part of the adventure instead of a means to an ends.

When flying really is the only option however, we do have one other tool up our sleeves, the last resort card if you will. That is carbon offsetting. Although it doesn't equal not taking the flight at all, carbon offsetting provides at least some positive outcome from the negative effects flights have on the world around us.

What is carbon offsetting?

Offsetting is the process of compensating the carbon emissions that have arisen from your activities such as flying, normally calculated through a fee.
Money donated to carbon offsetting schemes will go to projects around the globe designed to make the equivalent reduction in carbon emissions, whether that through changing tech, so emissions are not produced, such as providing clean cooking fuels in developing countries or sequestering the emissions back into the earth in reforestation / rain forest protection projects instead.

How do you offset your carbon?

Understanding where to start when it comes to offsetting can be tricky. With so many websites all quoting different amounts of carbon and valuing the amount of carbon you have produced very differently it can be difficult to see the wood from the trees. 
The good news is that you can take some really easy steps to offset your carbon in no time.

1. Calculate your carbon emissions 

Although some offsetting schemes will help you calculate your emissions, not all do. Therefore it can be best to calculate your emissions yourself to get a better gauge for how much you've produced. Climate Care's website provides one of the most popular here

2. Select your offsetting scheme

The options are vast and do vary but below are a few possibility that I would be happy to use from my research.

One of the best options available, Climate Care is a B corp which means it's a company with the highest social and environmental standards and strives to be a force for good. With programmes on efficient stoves in Ghana, clean energy in India, Rainforest Protection  in Sierra Leone. So far they've cut 35 million tons of Co2 and improved 37 million lives which is an impressive track record.

Established by WWF and other International NGOs to ensure projects are actually reducing carbon emissions, Gold Standard is a summary source of carbon offsetting projects which are to the highest standard. To use their website first you must calculate your carbon footprint independently, then once you know how many tonnes of CO2 you're responsible for and then you can pick a project from the wide selection they have to offer. Each project has a limited number of donations available to ensure that people are really making a difference. Schemes include wind power in India, Biogas in Kenya and Forest projects and protection in Panama.

Carbon Footprint

One of the most popular carbon offsetters, a founding member of the Quality Assurance Standard and certified carbon neutral, Carbon Footprint provides a great option. Additionally they financially support some of the UK projects by reinvesting profits. With a Carbon Acadamy for peer learning and talks, the company are committed to helping companies, as well as individuals, reduce their footprint and is working hard to make a difference.
Projects vary greatly from fuel efficiency in Sudan, clean water programmes in Central America, tree planting in the UK, deforestation reduction in Brazil and wild farm projects in India and China.


Clevel is another B Corporation with the single purpose of working with people to achieve carbon level impact. Additionally they are a corporate member of 1% For The Planet, which means they donate 1% of their turnover to the 1% charities, so your money is going further in helping people and the world around us. Projects include tropical forest protection with indigenous people, reforestation in Nicaragua with farmers and Mangrove conservation in Kenya.

Hopefully this guide proves useful and means you can easily offset your emissions if you do have to take a flight. One final tip, economy has far lower emissions than business or first class so save the cash for the holiday instead of the flight.


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