Archive for May, 2010

Offsetting and Offsets: the basics of carbon neutrality

May 19, 2010

“Carbon neutrality” is a phrase that many people have heard, but few really understand. Essentially, going “carbon neutral” means achieving net zero carbon emissions, or balancing the amount of carbon released into the atmosphere with an equivalent amount sequestered or offset.

To further complicate matters, carbon offsetting can mean a couple different things: (1) using renewable energy instead of burning fossil fuels for power; or (2) purchasing carbon offset credits. Offset credits can fund a variety of activities, like large-scale tree planting efforts or innovative carbon reduction projects, such as installing anaerobic digesters on farms to capture methane (a global warming gas estimated to be 21 times more powerful than carbon dioxide).

The best practice for individuals or organizations seeking to achieve carbon neutrality is to reduce the amount of carbon emissions released in the first place. However, purchasing carbon offset credits is also an easy way to invest in a healthier planet. To learn more about how to calculate and offset your personal or professional carbon footprint, visit www.terrapass.com or www.greenmountainenergy.com/carbon_offsets.shtml.