FeaturesCarbon offsetting - is it just hype?

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Carbon offsetting - is it just hype?


A few years ago carbon offsetting was hailed as the way forward, something that would enable us to continue with our resource greedy lifestyle and save the planet. A win-win situation, but now the tide is turning. Researchers are finding that tropical ecosystems are being damage in the name of offsetting, while at home voluntary offsetting is seen as a bit of PR, making everybody feel good about themself, but not really addressing the real issue of reducing carbon emissions. Now some of the pioneers in offsetting are turning their back on the schemes. This feature, written by Sally Morgan, takes a long hard look at carbon offsetting.

Last month I had to travel from London to NY on business and I had no option but to travel by air. Not a problem, I would offset the extra carbon, so I visited one of the many websites that specialise in calculating your carbon emissions. I entered the details in their calculator and up popped the results: I would travel 6883 miles, produce 1.53 tonnes of carbon which would cost £13.22 to offset. My money could go into one of many projects from solar installations in India, wind power in China, or stoves in Cambodia. Easy – I could now fly to NY guilt-free. But this is not really helping as its allowing me to carry on as normal and surely thats not the way forward. If the world has to have any hope of making the targets of Copenhagen we have to change our behaviour. Instead of putting my hand in my pocket and simply paying for someone else to do the work, what could I do to reduce my emissions by myself? And this is where it gets interesting!

014480 - Coal fired power   station - United Kingdom
052223 - Young woman turning   dial on central heating   thermostat - United Kingdom
049858 - Planting trees in   India - India
048920 - Thermostatic valve   on radiator - United Kingdom
048371 - Carbon offset   project next to Uskmouth   Power Station - Wales
045743 - Children walking to   school, - United Kingdom

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