The Merits of Giving Carbon Offsets as Christmas Presents

by Henry Jones

This year as Christmas presents I will be buying most of my friends and relatives “carbon reductions” – that’s my name for them, but they’re more commonly known as “carbon offsets” or “carbon credits.” The trouble with the latter terms is that carbon emissions are implicit: you’re either offsetting CO2 you’ve already dumped or you’re buying “permission” to dump in the future. That gives the scheme a bad name, and a bad vibe, by my mind.

For those that are new to the concept, carbon reductions can be purchased which equate to a reduction in carbon emissions, due to that money being invested in green projects. Examples of these projects are wind farms, solar panels, more efficient cook stoves for people in developing countries, reforestation….the list of potential programs is almost endless. Many also deliver added benefits to local communities and the environment, such as job creation, health and well-being improvements and protection of biodiversity. A more detailed explanation of carbon reductions can be read here.

Additionality is an important element of carbon reductions – this means that the green project would not be going ahead without the sale of carbon reductions. Certification of carbon reductions gives peace of mind about this and other issues and the most rigorous certification is known as the Gold Standard.

Purchasing carbon reductions/offsets/credits as Christmas gifts should make the recipient feel good and also spread awareness about carbon reductions and anthropogenic global warming in general amongst the ignorant and apathetic. It also avoids feeding toxic material consumerism and buying a useless or unwanted gift, after all, many adults have all the “stuff” they want already, in my experience.

A friend said, of giving carbon reductions as Christmas presents, that instead of giving a lump of coal, it’s like giving the inverse of a lump of coal…or even a sack! Bearing that in mind, there is a built in element of tradition in the scheme, albeit something of a reinterpretation.

Carbon reductions can be purchased here and there are many other ways to find and buy them with a quick google search.

Posts on these blog pages are the personal views of the authors only and are not intended to represent any agreed or general view on the part of GlosCAN.org.

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