Carbon Offsets

Old Oct 28, 19, 5:03 pm
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Carbon Offsets

I've been curious about purchasing carbon offsets for my carbon footprint (flights & otherwise) for a while but I'm not that familiar with the options. Does anybody who has looked into this have suggestions on which providers to go with (in terms of price/"quality" of offsets, etc.)?

The main fears I have is that since you can't really verify the offsets yourself and there's not much regulation, someone could easily double-sell the offsets (eg, sell a 1KW renewable energy offset to you and then sell the power generated to an end consumer as coming from a renewable source).
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Old Oct 28, 19, 6:29 pm
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I looked into this a couple months back and ended up bookmarking https://www.goldstandard.org/ as a good place to go for this in the future. I think the key for me is making sure that the resources are going toward something that wouldn't be built without the money and is actually adding something that wouldn't otherwise be there. Say a town would've bought and installed wind turbines out of pocket even if no outside help was provided. All this does is free up money for the town and doesn't really offset anything even if they money might be going towards something good.
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Old Oct 29, 19, 7:17 am
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Originally Posted by lokisnake View Post
I looked into this a couple months back and ended up bookmarking https://www.goldstandard.org/ as a good place to go for this in the future. I think the key for me is making sure that the resources are going toward something that wouldn't be built without the money and is actually adding something that wouldn't otherwise be there. Say a town would've bought and installed wind turbines out of pocket even if no outside help was provided. All this does is free up money for the town and doesn't really offset anything even if they money might be going towards something good.
I'm using Gold Standard when I buy my offset however I use Atmosfair to calculate the amount needed. SAS is selling biofuel for their flights, which I have used instead of offsetting carbon sometimes.
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Old Oct 29, 19, 9:30 pm
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KLM offers carbon offset purchase during the ticket checkout process, no idea about the accuracy.
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Old Oct 30, 19, 1:19 pm
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Originally Posted by rill2503456 View Post
I've been curious about purchasing carbon offsets for my carbon footprint (flights & otherwise) for a while but I'm not that familiar with the options. Does anybody who has looked into this have suggestions on which providers to go with (in terms of price/"quality" of offsets, etc.)?

The main fears I have is that since you can't really verify the offsets yourself and there's not much regulation, someone could easily double-sell the offsets (eg, sell a 1KW renewable energy offset to you and then sell the power generated to an end consumer as coming from a renewable source).
Okay there are some jargon issues here that greatly confuse the general public. I do not consider myself an expert in the field, but I work for a hedge fund that builds renewable energy facilities all over the world, so I have a working understanding of carbon credits and the process to apply/qualify for them. First of all, all offsets are verified. The types of offsets that you would be buying are on what's called the "Voluntary Market", which means that they are sourced from projects all over the world that have qualified for carbon credits via an auditing process. There are a number of organizations that do this, namely Verra and Gold Standard.

The top tier organizations will have databases of projects that show where the credits are sourced, how much carbon they sequester, and other pertinent details. Technically, the word offset is directly tied to a verified credit, but the term has become so diluted that there are many people that claim to sell offsets, when they are in fact not. This is probably where you are getting the belief that there is not much regulation. If your goal is simply to offset your flights then the price right now is about $6 per tonne. However, the current system suffers from a massive lack of liquidity, so what really happens, is that you as the consumer have the opportunity to simply fund the carbon projects that you believe in. The goal of carbon credits (on the voluntary market) is not simply to "offset carbon", but to provide a social benefit to humanity (a lofty goal).

So for my money, I personally prefer to buy credits from Verra for projects that have the dual benefit of reducing emissions, but providing some sort of financial assistance to those that need it. An example of this type of offset would be building solar arrays in rural communities. At the end of the day this is charity, so choose what you like best.
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Old Oct 31, 19, 8:34 pm
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If there is a problem with air travel producing too much "carbon", there really should be no way to buy your way out of that problem. Politicians tell us that this is a matter of life and death. Well, if that is true, then the rich shouldn't be allowed to pollute just by paying an extra "tax"-it would be akin to buying a license to murder your fellow citizens.

If flying is so damaging, it should be banned.

The best way to ease the carbon footprint of societies is to limit population and migration through mandatory measures. Nobody wants to talk about that anymore but, in the 60's and 70's, it was a big movement.
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Old Nov 1, 19, 9:24 pm
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Originally Posted by zombietooth View Post
If there is a problem with air travel producing too much "carbon", there really should be no way to buy your way out of that problem. Politicians tell us that this is a matter of life and death. Well, if that is true, then the rich shouldn't be allowed to pollute just by paying an extra "tax"-it would be akin to buying a license to murder your fellow citizens.

If flying is so damaging, it should be banned.

The best way to ease the carbon footprint of societies is to limit population and migration through mandatory measures. Nobody wants to talk about that anymore but, in the 60's and 70's, it was a big movement.
I hope this doesn't devolve into a climate change denial thread, but yes, there absolutely is a way to offset. You don't remove the actual pollution of the plane, of course, but your money could (for example) help build methane capture systems for landfills. Hence offset.

As to OP's question: I use terrapass. They are quite transparent about how they address the issue you bring up, along with other potential issues -- basically, by following the Gold Standard mentioned by another poster above. You'll find that there's a surprising amount of internal regulation within the industry: https://www.terrapass.com/standards/
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Old Nov 2, 19, 4:40 pm
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Originally Posted by zoned_post_meridiem View Post
I hope this doesn't devolve into a climate change denial thread, but yes, there absolutely is a way to offset. You don't remove the actual pollution of the plane, of course, but your money could (for example) help build methane capture systems for landfills. Hence offset.

As to OP's question: I use terrapass. They are quite transparent about how they address the issue you bring up, along with other potential issues -- basically, by following the Gold Standard mentioned by another poster above. You'll find that there's a surprising amount of internal regulation within the industry: https://www.terrapass.com/standards/
I hope this thread doesn't devolve into blind support of the questionable "carbon offset" business. And it is a business, where workers, developers, land owners, project managers, carbon offset consultants, marketers and brokers, and even countries are making lots of money through commissions, inflated salaries, government subsidies, inflated land values, etc. And salaries and per diem at non-profits are powerful motivation to keep your "non-profit" going.

TerraPass is owned by JustEnergy, a Canadian Natural gas and electricity reseller. Now, I have no problem with natural gas, but TerraPass is in the business of making a profit.

Your "Gold Standard" organization verification is equivalent to De Beers telling you that diamonds are "rare" and "a sound investment". Never trust someone with a vested interest in the product they are selling or promoting.

Perhaps you should read this:

https://features.propublica.org/braz...acre-cambodia/

You'll note in the article that, "85% of offset programs yield questionable benefits".

This is a good article as well, but older:

https://www.csmonitor.com/Environmen...global-warming

Last edited by zombietooth; Nov 2, 19 at 6:32 pm
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Old Nov 2, 19, 7:59 pm
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Originally Posted by zombietooth View Post
I hope this thread doesn't devolve into blind support of the questionable "carbon offset" business. And it is a business, where workers, developers, land owners, project managers, carbon offset consultants, marketers and brokers, and even countries are making lots of money through commissions, inflated salaries, government subsidies, inflated land values, etc. And salaries and per diem at non-profits are powerful motivation to keep your "non-profit" going.

TerraPass is owned by JustEnergy, a Canadian Natural gas and electricity reseller. Now, I have no problem with natural gas, but TerraPass is in the business of making a profit.

Your "Gold Standard" organization verification is equivalent to De Beers telling you that diamonds are "rare" and "a sound investment". Never trust someone with a vested interest in the product they are selling or promoting.

Perhaps you should read this:

https://features.propublica.org/braz...acre-cambodia/

You'll note in the article that, "85% of offset programs yield questionable benefits".

This is a good article as well, but older:

https://www.csmonitor.com/Environmen...global-warming
The propublica report is very good -- appreciate you posting it, and I'm all for being critical in this fairly new space. I'm sure that half of carbon offsets are trash. But it's also important to acknowledge that a) the report is primarily about re-forestation efforts (which are one of many types of carbon offsetting), and more importantly b) the concerns it raises about some (or even many) projects -- like additionality or double-counting -- are explicitly addressed by reputable companies, and yes, by the Gold Standard.

Granted, if you don't trust the Gold Standard verification, it's a no-starter -- then there's no way of verifying that a given project actually does address additionality and other pitfalls. But like that one quote noted: what else do we have that's better?

As for terrapass, I couldn't care less if they're for-profit -- in fact, being for-profit (and, I believe, publicly traded) is going to significantly increase their levels of accountability. If they take a cut from my carbon credits ... great, this is challenging work, I don't expect it to be done for free, and I myself don't want to do it. But I'm also not in any way partial to them; there's other good carbon credit vendors out there.
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Old Nov 2, 19, 11:32 pm
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Originally Posted by zoned_post_meridiem View Post
The propublica report is very good -- appreciate you posting it, and I'm all for being critical in this fairly new space. I'm sure that half of carbon offsets are trash. But it's also important to acknowledge that a) the report is primarily about re-forestation efforts (which are one of many types of carbon offsetting), and more importantly b) the concerns it raises about some (or even many) projects -- like additionality or double-counting -- are explicitly addressed by reputable companies, and yes, by the Gold Standard.

Granted, if you don't trust the Gold Standard verification, it's a no-starter -- then there's no way of verifying that a given project actually does address additionality and other pitfalls. But like that one quote noted: what else do we have that's better?

As for terrapass, I couldn't care less if they're for-profit -- in fact, being for-profit (and, I believe, publicly traded) is going to significantly increase their levels of accountability. If they take a cut from my carbon credits ... great, this is challenging work, I don't expect it to be done for free, and I myself don't want to do it. But I'm also not in any way partial to them; there's other good carbon credit vendors out there.
Just so you know, I fully support efforts to minimize all pollutants in the atmosphere, not just greenhouse gases. I am just far more skeptical of the very loud voices in the media telling us we need to do it a certain way, e.g. carbon offsets. There are lots of other ways to reduce emissions including decreasing the square footage of housing, workplaces, etc., decreasing horsepower of cars and other vehicles (i.e. increasing fuel burn efficiency), completely eliminating tax benefits or increased public assistance for having more children because, in the end, the very best solution to decreasing environmental change/damage is fewer humans on this planet. Why should families who have lots of babies be rewarded for this anti-social behavior with money?

I also don't like the fact that some zero emissions power solutions are getting short shrift e.g. nuclear and hydroelectric. I know a lot about the operation of nuclear reactors and the actual risks they pose to living organisms and the environment, and these risks are manageable. Also, there is really no way for the population of the Earth to keep increasing, while having access to reliable power, without adding more nuclear sources into the mix. It has just been so demonized in the media (in much the same way that vaccines were demonized for many years) that no one seems to want to plan for its inevitable, necessarily increased, future use-at least not publicly. Nuclear use will have to increase no matter what happens with government policy concerning limiting growth in emissions and population or increasing energy efficiency of dwellings, buildings and infrastructure. It's time we started embracing it.

This is a very good article from the Washington Post which addresses the difficulties in getting more nuclear plants online, and the great lengths of time it takes to plan and build a new plant. You'll note that lots of climate scientists are now aggressively supporting nuclear but they are having a hard time overcoming the negative bias in the media and political circles. See here:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/...or-in-decades/
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Last edited by zombietooth; Nov 3, 19 at 12:11 am
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Old Nov 3, 19, 7:16 am
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Originally Posted by zombietooth View Post
Just so you know, I fully support efforts to minimize all pollutants in the atmosphere, not just greenhouse gases. I am just far more skeptical of the very loud voices in the media telling us we need to do it a certain way, e.g. carbon offsets. There are lots of other ways to reduce emissions including decreasing the square footage of housing, workplaces, etc., decreasing horsepower of cars and other vehicles (i.e. increasing fuel burn efficiency), completely eliminating tax benefits or increased public assistance for having more children because, in the end, the very best solution to decreasing environmental change/damage is fewer humans on this planet. Why should families who have lots of babies be rewarded for this anti-social behavior with money?

I also don't like the fact that some zero emissions power solutions are getting short shrift e.g. nuclear and hydroelectric. I know a lot about the operation of nuclear reactors and the actual risks they pose to living organisms and the environment, and these risks are manageable. Also, there is really no way for the population of the Earth to keep increasing, while having access to reliable power, without adding more nuclear sources into the mix. It has just been so demonized in the media (in much the same way that vaccines were demonized for many years) that no one seems to want to plan for its inevitable, necessarily increased, future use-at least not publicly. Nuclear use will have to increase no matter what happens with government policy concerning limiting growth in emissions and population or increasing energy efficiency of dwellings, buildings and infrastructure. It's time we started embracing it.

This is a very good article from the Washington Post which addresses the difficulties in getting more nuclear plants online, and the great lengths of time it takes to plan and build a new plant. You'll note that lots of climate scientists are now aggressively supporting nuclear but they are having a hard time overcoming the negative bias in the media and political circles. See here:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/...or-in-decades/
I happen to agree with most of these, except maybe the public assistance one (itís correct in principle, but lack of public funding will likely not decrease births in a meaningful way, and then thereís downstream climate consequences to underfunded families).

I definitely agree with the nuclear power argument ó itís extremely short-sighted (and often most so by those who are most invested in green policies) to summarily discount nuclear power. Itís clean, without the secondary effects of solar/wind farms, and far safer than coal/gas.

But in the end, this is still a thread about carbon offsets, and absent better alternatives (itís not like NOT buying carbon credits will suddenly change our approach to nuclear) a well-sourced carbon offset is better than nothing.
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Old Nov 3, 19, 11:18 am
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I'm relatively uninformed on this topic, but it's been my understanding that CORSIA (Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation) required all international flights to offset their emissions with carbon offsets. Do any of you still purchase offsets in addition to those, or are you only purchasing them for domestic flights that aren't covered by the agreement?
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Old Nov 3, 19, 3:55 pm
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Is there any real difference between this and selling indulgences in the Middle Ages?
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Old Nov 3, 19, 7:09 pm
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Originally Posted by cmcc View Post
Is there any real difference between this and selling indulgences in the Middle Ages?
I hope not. We need a good climate Reformation.
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Old Nov 4, 19, 10:31 am
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I advise those who don't know enough about carbon offsets to check out these two resources

https://environoego.com/can-carbon-o...limate-change/

and

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R0yQ...ature=youtu.be

both present the facts in an easy to follow manner and show the pros/cons.
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