Is Offsetting Carbon worth it? The Real Truth about it.

Climate Real Talk Team

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You can be on the Earth and not do anything to help the climate change problem. But you’ll be destroying the place we all call home. And that’s bad for everyone because to stop global warming, we all need to work together.

No matter how you think about it, we’re all in this together . . . so let’s do something about it.

The good news is that there are lots of fun things you can do to help improve the climate change problem—things like recycling and riding your bike, or even planting a tree. Where does carbon offsetting feature in improving the climate and is it really worth it?

Let’s find out.

Also read: Calculate Your Carbon Footprint

Is Offsetting Carbon worth it?

What is carbon offsetting?

The idea of a carbon offset is that you spend money on something that will help the climate change problem, which is good for everyone, not just you.

It can range from you buying a solar panel, where you can use that electricity to offset your carbon dioxide emissions. In order to make up for your own emissions, you can offset them by engaging in carbon offsetting projects.

For instance, by planting trees that absorb carbon as they grow or by supplying communities in poor nations with energy-efficient cooking stoves reducing their dependence on fossil fuels. 

Everyday Examples of carbon offsetting

I’m not going to tell you how to live your life and many already people disagree with everything that I’m about to tell you. However, I’m going to show you some creative ways that you can get carbon offsetting . . . and they will help the climate change problem.

Example 1: Buying carbon offsets

Carbon credits, which are also called carbon offsets or carbon offset credits, are measurable and verifiable reductions in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from certified climate action projects that reduce, remove, or prevent GHG emissions. A carbon credit is the right to emit one metric ton of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

Carbon credits can be traded on a carbon market either voluntarily or as part or regulations. Basically, when a company buys carbon credits, it pays for projects that take carbon dioxide out of the air. This makes up for the company’s carbon emissions. Many companies are trying to reach “net-zero” goals, which means they are offsetting 100% of the carbon they are putting into the air.

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A person can also buy carbon credits as an investment and sell them to these companies or other investors in the future to make money.

Example 2: Investing in carbon-free investments

Invest in companies that directly help reduce carbon emissions, like those that make clean energy. Even though this strategy is straightforward, it has limitations. According to Factset, Alternative Power Generation companies only make up 0.24 percent of the free float of the MSCI World Index. 

Since there aren’t many of these types of companies, another good strategy is to invest in companies that have small but growing exposure to business areas that contribute to the energy transition. For example, “mainstream” industrials that make smart grid or renewable energy equipment are a good example of this. 

Is Offsetting Carbon worth it?

Example 3: Buying carbon offsets to protect a forest or a preserve

The best way to help the climate change problem is by protecting and restoring the environment, such as forests. Just because you live in the city doesn’t mean that you should destroy nature by continuing carbon pollution. So instead of doing that, you could buy carbon offsets to help protect a forest or a preserve.

See Also: What is Green Consumer Behavior?

Is offsetting Carbon really worth it?

That’s the big question: Is carbon offsetting worth it? And the answer is a hard yes and a maybe no. I’ll say yes because the concept of carbon offsetting has in fact promoted green behavior in places it is being practiced. There has been an increase in sales and awareness of green products and afforestation projects come out of it

But let me tell you about the other side of the coin. I’ll say no because offset programs don’t produce the decrease in atmospheric carbon emissions that we require. Instead, they serve as a diversion from the actual climate change solutions. We see people being hypocritical about it. They continue to have a high carbon footprint value and yet say they make up for it by engaging in carbon offsetting and not regulating their carbon usage.

 Offsetting enables major carbon-using industries and organizations like airlines to carry on with their unsustainable-behaving practices while putting the burden of climate stewardship onto the consumer or other companies.

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Don’t get me wrong; conserving forests and reestablishing natural ecosystems are essential for species and the climate, but we should also be directly cutting emissions, not doing so in addition to them. 

The main issue with offsets is not that what they give is bad—planting trees, using renewable energy sources, and promoting efficiency in underdeveloped areas are all positive things—but rather that they don’t live up to their promises.

They don’t genuinely eliminate, or offset, the emissions that they are associated with. If a company that offsets its air travel is still actively airing the carbon it produces, it will never to its full climate-healing potential. Rather than buying offsets, you should support efforts to secure a completely carbon-neutral lifestyle.

What are the major limitations of carbon offsetting

The main limitation of carbon offsetting is that it does not assist with the global reduction of carbon emissions. Some companies and individuals claim to be able to reduce the climate change issue by selling offsets, however, this doesn’t accomplish much.

When you are buying offsets, you are not directly changing anything. All you may be doing is contributing to the problem by buying an offset. You are not making any changes. In some cases, you will not even be able to cancel out your own emissions, so it’s a no-win situation.

But most of the time you will be able to cancel out your own emissions, so why are you paying someone else to do it? Instead of paying for an offset, you should be making a change.

The number two limitation of carbon offsetting is that carbon offsetting is not economically sustainable Because “poorer” countries are paid to offset carbon while “richer” countries continue to emit. This keeps the wealth and poverty disparity in the world intact. The amount of emissions from the wealthy around the world is greatly disproportionate to that of the underprivileged.

We all should be engaged in it not pawning off the burden to developing countries in accordance with the Paris Agreement.

Does carbon offsetting reduce global warming?

As previously described, carbon offsetting does not reduce global warming. Carbon offsetting simply shifts the burden of climate stewardship from the problem-creators onto their unwitting customers. Though there are some positive effects, these effects are mostly a distraction.

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If you’re looking to reduce carbon emissions, and you want to help the climate change problem, there are more effective ways to do this. You can switch off your lights when you leave the room or use energy-saving appliances (energy-saving devices). You can also walk or take a bike instead of driving. You could even avoid using plastics  . . . or at least minimize your use.

These actions will actually do more to help the planet reduce greenhouse gases. The climate change problem is a global issue, and nothing you do can change it if you are in a country that continues to pollute. But if you live in a place that is polluting less, then there are ways to help the planet that don’t involve “buying” off.


If you want to help the climate change problem, the best way to do it is by reducing your own carbon footprint. You can do this by making your home energy efficient, reducing your consumption of electricity, and using less energy overall. 

Carbon offsetting is not a solution, but only a distraction and has been hijacked as a PR strategy by some major organizations. If you want to help the climate change problem, you need to actively engage in carbon emissions reductions wherever possible. Activities that contribute to the climate change problem should be avoided. Then you can add carbon offset projects to your carbon reduction process.

Start this change Now! For questions and suggestions please use the comment box below.

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