Understanding carbon offsetting

18 November, 2020 | Megan Jones
Categories: Carbon Offsetting, CO2balance

As the effects of climate change continue to become increasingly evident throughout the world, many of us are considering the ways in which we can reduce our negative impact on the planet. 

The key to mitigating climate change appears to be to decarbonise our economies and switch to 100% renewable energy, however whilst we work towards this goal many of our emissions remain unavoidable.

This is where carbon offsetting acts as a fantastic tool, providing funds for projects which reduce emissions and contribute in building a greener and more sustainable future globally, whilst having a multitude of additional benefits for project communities.

A photograph of a community user of a rehabilitation borehole from CO2balance’s Safe Water implemented in The Gambia, sourced from the project during on-going monitoring activities.

Carbon Credits

Quantities of CO2 in the carbon-offsetting market are commonly referred to by the term ‘carbon credits’. Each certified carbon credit equates to exactly 1 tonne of CO2 emissions which were avoided from being released into the atmosphere through a particular project.

There is a huge variety of carbon projects including forestry and waste management, renewable energy and bioenergy.

Our Projects

CO2balance is involved in a range of carbon offsetting projects, with the majority of our currently active projects improving energy efficiency. This covers a range of technologies, although notably replacing traditional, highly-emitting cooking methods with more efficient, cleaner alternatives and the provision of a safe, clean water to communities who are forced to rely on dirty and polluted sources which are often far from their home.

Our Improved Cookstove projects create carbon credits through the distribution of improved and efficient cookstoves within communities, replacing inefficient cooking methods previously in use, reducing the amount of CO2 emissions released.

A photograph of a beneficiary of an Improved Cookstove from Vita Ireland’s project implemented across Eritrea, which CO2balance certify the emission savings from, sourced from the project during on-going monitoring activities.

Our Safe Water projects provide clean water to communities through the rehabilitation of boreholes which draw water up from underground reservoirs. Every borehole has the water quality tested to ensure it is safe for human consumption, and treatment is carried out where needed to ensure the water meets National Standards. As this water is safe to drink, communities no longer need to boil their water using firewood to purify it, resulting in reduced deforestation and CO2 emissions.

A photograph of a community celebrating the rehabilitation of their borehole as part of CO2balance’s Safe Water project implemented in The Gambia.

Extensive testing and surveying allow us to calculate how many emissions have been saved through the implementation and management of these projects each year, equating to a certain number of carbon credits.

A photograph of a socially distanced survey as part of an annual monitoring survey in a community that uses a rehabilitated borehole that is part of CO2balance’s Safe Water project implemented in The Gambia.

How much do you emit?

The global average of CO2 emissions was 4.93 tCO2 per person in 2019, however this number varies widely between nations. For example in 2019 the world’s largest emitter was Qatar at 38.82tCO2 annual emissions per person whereas each person in the Central African Republic emitted only 0.10tCO2.

Most European countries are relatively moderate emitters with the EU annual average being 7.0tCO2 in 2019, slightly above the global average. In 2019 the UK emitted 5.45 tCO2, France 4.81tCO2, and Germany emitted 8.52tCO2 per person on average. Find the average annual emissions for your country here.

As your personal lifestyle choices such as your diet, travel and consumer habits can have a major impact on your individual emissions, you may like to calculate your emissions more accurately using an online calculator such as this one created by the WWF.