What is a Carbon Offset?

Gas goes up and we talk about reducing our energy consumption. When gas goes down, we forget about alternative energy and get back in our Hummers and big gas guzzling vehicles without an energy care.

Where ever you are in the save the planet debate, you may have never heard of carbon offsets. Companies use them as well as individuals. Simply put, you can buy the right to pollute by purchasing a carbon offset. The money you or your company spends to purchase an offset goes to a green energy initiative. Maybe it’s a wind farm or a reforestation project.

Sounds like a good idea doesn’t it? I don’t think anybody would disagree that this kind of initiative is a great idea but there are problems with it. First, how green is it to purchase these offsets so that you can pollute some more? Sure, the money may be going to a green project but you haven’t reduced your carbon footprint so it’s a less than perfect solution.

Next, this is a voluntary program. Nobody has to take part and If you are a corporation, how much money are you going to put towards something that a relatively small amount of people know about? That money could be used in a more public and PR friendly way.  Bravo to companies like Google who do participate in this program.

Where does this program go from here? We will see but nobody can argue that the initiative is a good idea.  For more information on carbon offsets go to carbonfund.org

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