sweeping up footprints

How Do Carbon Offsets Work?

Even though carbon offsetting has become fairly commonplace as a carbon footprint shrinking tool, many would-be offsetters still have lingering questions. In her great encapsulation of offsetting in the Washington Post, Sarah Kaplan distills the valuable practice and makes it accessible.

Without systemic changes in the way society functions — an electric grid powered completely by renewable energy, a food system that generates fewer greenhouse gases, etc. — it is pretty much impossible for a single person or even a large institution to go completely carbon-free.

“The whole purpose of offsets,” said University of California at Berkeley climate policy researcher Barbara Haya, “is to create a way for an individual or a company or a university to pay someone else to reduce emissions to cover emissions that they can’t reduce themselves.”


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