Foreign Fruit: Considering Carbon Offsets

This is our resource page for carbon offsetting looking at the motivations and effectiveness of paying others to reduce emissions.

For those interested in learning more about carbon offsets and how they can contribute to mitigating climate change, here are some valuable resources to consider:

1. Websites and Blogs:

  • The Gold Standard provides comprehensive information on carbon offset projects that meet its high sustainability standards.
  • Green-e offers insights into certified renewable energy and carbon offset options.
  • The Environmental Defense Fund has a variety of resources related to carbon offsets and climate change.

2. Books:

  • “Carbon Markets: An International Business Guide” by Arnaud Brohé provides an in-depth overview of carbon credits and the global carbon market.
  • “Making Sustainability Work” by Marc J. Epstein and Adriana Rejc Buhovac provides useful insights on the incorporation of sustainability, including carbon offsets, into business strategy.

3. Online Courses:

  • Coursera and edX offer a variety of courses on climate change, sustainability, and carbon management.

4. Reports and Academic Articles:

  • The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) regularly publishes reports that include discussions on carbon offsetting.
  • Academic journals such as “Nature Climate Change,” “Climate Policy,” and “Environmental Science & Policy” often feature research on carbon offsets.

5. Nonprofit Organizations and Consultancies:

  • Consult with nonprofits such as The Climate Trust or Carbonfund that facilitate offset purchases and provide consulting services for individuals and businesses.

Offsets And Insets Are Two strategies

Carbon offsets (covered on this page) and insets are two strategies that companies use to manage and reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. The former, carbon offsets, are perhaps more widely recognized. When a company invests in carbon offsets, it is funding projects outside of its own operations that capture or prevent the release of a certain amount of carbon dioxide or other greenhouse gases.

These projects can vary widely in nature, ranging from renewable energy initiatives and reforestation efforts to methane capture projects. The idea is that the carbon savings from these projects ‘offset‘ the company’s own emissions, effectively balancing out their carbon footprint. In this way, businesses can contribute to the global effort against climate change, even as they continue to operate and, inevitably, generate some emissions.

On the other hand, carbon insets represent a different approach. While offsets look outside of a company’s operations, insets focus inward, investing in emission-reducing projects within the company’s own value chain. These projects might include upgrading to more energy-efficient machinery, shifting to renewable energy sources, or adopting more sustainable agricultural practices (in the case of food or textile companies).

The goal of insets is to directly reduce a company’s emissions within its own operational scope, leading to a more sustainable and resilient business model. The benefit of this approach is twofold: companies can decrease their carbon footprint and simultaneously improve their operational efficiency and sustainability in a way that can often lead to cost savings. Through carbon insets, businesses can take more direct responsibility for their emissions and work towards tangible, internal changes.

We have a longer report about the carbon insets and differences between these.

From Shrink That Footprint

Taking further climate action (overview)

From around the web

Carbon Offset Research & Education

Ecosystem Marketplace

Lindsay Wilson
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I founded Shrink That Footprint in November 2012, after a long period of research. For many years I have calculated, studied and worked with carbon footprints, and Shrink That Footprint is that interest come to life.

I have an Economics degree from UCL, have previously worked as an energy efficiency analyst at BNEF and continue to work as a strategy consultant at Maneas.  I have consulted to numerous clients in energy and finance, as well as the World Economic Forum.

When I’m not crunching carbon footprints you’ll often find me helping my two year old son tend to the tomatoes, salad and peppers growing in our upcycled greenhouse.

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