Like anything, there is the good and bad. The intention of carbon credits being used to offset your carbon footprint is good. However this depends on your perspective, lets start with the good.
Carbon offsetting is a way for individuals and businesses to easily become carbon neutral, and to contribute to specific projects with the sole aim of positive climate impact.
Largely the complex work in calculating your carbon footprint has been done for you, so it’s only a matter of selecting a few values from dropdown menus and away you go, select a plan and you can go about your normal routine knowing that you are doing your part to balance out negative climate impacts.
For businesses where emitting carbon emissions is part of normal business operations and can’t do anything to reduce their footprints, carbon offsetting with carbon credits is a great way for them to do their part.
Now the bad, depending on how you look at it, just purchasing carbon offsets to eliminate 100% of your carbon footprint rather than actually attempting or making an effort to reduce your carbon emissions can be perceived as circumventing responsibility or paying someone else to manage your responsibility. All of us have a social responsibility to do what we can to help balance out the impact we individually have on our planet, this means first doing what we can to reduce our emissions then looking at alternatives to offset the rest.
Let’s address the scam element – there have been some bad apples in the past using carbon credit markets to scam people and institutions out of money. Additionally, if you live in a country or state where ALL carbon emissions are being handled by authorities then buying into carbon offsets is a waste of money.
As climate change is becoming a more critical issue, governments and regulators are tightening up rules, certification requirements to eliminate the scams and dodgey operators, of course, this means a lot more red tape and work for project developers looking to have their project certified, inevitably pushing the price up of carbon offsets.
For those of us that desire to better our planet carbon offsetting unavoidable emissions is a great way to do good for the planet, a couple of tips first on offset provider selection:
Check they only use certified and verified credits by leading standards (VERRA, Gold Standard, REDD+ and UNFCC)
The provider has contact details and a physical address published, this way you know where they are.
The provider clearly explains where your money is going and what happens when you purchase any offsets
Never provide payment details over the phone and only use secure checkout or payment providers like Apple Pay, Google Pay, Stripe, PayPal etc.