Carbon offsetting refers to reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions or increasing carbon storage (such as planting trees or land restoration). There are also carbon credits or carbon offset credits, which is a transferrable instrument certified by independent certification bodies to represent a reduction in carbon emissions of one metric tonne of CO2 (or the equivalent reduction in GHGs).
The main concept of carbon credits is to convey a climate benefit from one entity to another. This is because, from a climate change perspective, the effects are the same if an organisation reduces its own emissions and enables or supports an emission-reducing activity.
Sectors where businesses have been known to use carbon offsets, include: aviation, travel & tourism, energy, transportation and manufacturing. For example, a tour company may offer a carbon offset package for a customer who wants to reduce their own carbon footprint while traveling out of an airplane. Another example is a car manufacturer offering an electric vehicle capable of being hooked up to renewable sources of energy at home, thus eliminating the need to purchase outside carbon offsets when driving it because it will eventually emit the same amount of carbon it would have if it did not use renewable sources.
Although carbon offsets are not required, they are becoming more popular with consumers and businesses because of their significant benefits in offsetting carbon emissions. Some of these benefits include an affordable option to cut greenhouse gas emissions, increasing awareness of pollution, helping fight climate change by reducing GHG emissions globally at low cost, having the potential to provide an additional revenue stream for companies that initiate them (if done right), mitigating business risks by protecting against future emissions regulations or taxes placed on businesses that emit lots of greenhouse gasses, etc.
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