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GUIDE / Carbon Offsets

Carbon Offsets 101


This is a brief introduction to carbon offsets that explains how they work, how they are measured, and how the money gets from you to carbon-reduction projects.

Carbon Offsets in a nutshell

A carbon offset unit represents the removal of one tonne of carbon dioxide equivalent (t CO2-e) from the atmosphere, or the avoidance of one tonne of emissions. The term carbon dioxide equivalent refers to the summation of multiple greenhouse gasses based on each gasses global warming potential (GWP). The Global Warming Potential (GWP) was developed to allow comparisons of the global warming impacts of different gases. Specifically, it is a measure of how much energy the emissions of 1 tonne of a gas will absorb over a given period of time, relative to the emissions of 1 tonne of carbon dioxide (CO2). For instance, methane has a GWP about 28 times that of CO2.

How are offsets measured?

Let's take the example of forestry projects. These types of projects follow strict international requirements in order to yield carbon offsets. Even before trees are planted, 3rd party validation will take place to make sure that projects will likely produce credits and be able to be monitored. After planting and every 3-5 years thereafter, another 3rd party consultant will travel to the project location to ensure that trees are growing and properly sequestering (pulling out of the air) CO2. All of this is done with oversight from multiple organizations to ensure that calculations are properly employed to measure and verify produced carbon offsets.

From Offsetra to a sustainable project - How you can have a climate-positive impact

Once carbon offsets have been verified they are placed on what's called a Project Registry. Carbon credit registries issue, track and ultimately retire carbon credits for a particular standard(s). Here, standards refer to the strict frameworks designed to validate and verify carbon projects. Retiring in the carbon world refers to when an offset is purchased and thus its associated CO2 cancelled out. At Offsetra we are providing a platform by which you, the consumer or business, can cancel out your own emissions by purchasing carbon offsets from a variety of sustainable projects. In doing so, you are helping finance these projects and further develop awesome sustainability initiatives like ecosystem restoration and renewable energy installation.