Updated: Jul 17, 2020
I was lucky enough to grow up surrounded by people who cared deeply about our planet; my family. My father pursued a career in land conservation, and my mother developed one of the first carbon offset reforestation projects in the US, located in Southern California.
I learned of climate change early in my childhood; that each and every decision impacted our planet in some way, whether I could see it or not. It seemed like there was not much that me or my family could do to make a significant, measurable difference in the face of this crisis.
We could not afford to buy a new Toyota Prius, which was first released in the mid-2000s. We could not afford to buy solar panels for our roof, and as such, we continued to be a significant part of the climate problem for years.
However, a mechanism that has been developed to enable individuals to become carbon neutral, despite the fact they have unavoidable carbon emissions, are carbon offsets.
Purchasing a carbon offset is where a person, a company, or government pays a project or company to either remove carbon from the atmosphere or reduce the rate of emissions elsewhere. While they are not the silver bullet to climate change, they are an effective piece of the puzzle that should be utilized when decarbonization cannot take place. For people in the US, it is very difficult for them to reduce their carbon emissions to a sustainable level without incredible lifestyle sacrifices. For example, how can we expect someone to give up their car when they have to drive to work or drop their kids off at school. Offsets can be best utilized by people who do not have the financial resources to put a Tesla or Prius in their driveway or solar panels on their roof.
Carbon offsets have often been called a guilt cleanser for carbon producing activities. Yes, lifestyle changes are absolutely necessary to effectively reverse climate change, and hopefully people will carry out these changes. But if people do not give up their personal vehicle, become vegan, or give up flying for good, does that mean they do not care about climate change? Of course not. Carbon offsets are a tool people can use to eliminate their carbon footprint after they have changed their lifestyle to the best extent that they can.
Carbon offsets are an investment in our collective future.
When used correctly, they are a mechanism that either protects our planet, or invests in a carbon neutral society. While our global society has begun its transition to a more sustainable future, it needs all the resources it can get to transition as quickly as possible.
Carbon Down empowers you to reduce your carbon footprint and connects you with pre-vetted carbon offset projects to become carbon neutral. While we know this alone will not solve the climate crisis, they are an opportunity for us to do our part to build a better future for us all.