To offset means to counterbalance or compensate. Many of our daily activities produce greenhouse gases. These include things like driving, flying, cooking, and, yes, shipping. Carbon offsets are an easy, affordable, and convenient way for us to offset our carbon footprint by supporting projects which reduce or remove greenhouse gases from the atmosphere. While there are a number of greenhouse gases which cause global warming, carbon offsets are measured in metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent. One carbon offset represents the reduction of one metric ton of carbon dioxide or its equivalent in other greenhouse gases.
Carbon reducing projects come in many forms but fall into a few broad categories.
- Renewable energy generation. This includes energy generated by clean renewable sources like wind, solar, hydro, geothermal, or biomass energy. Additional energy generated from these sources means that we will need to burn less fossil fuel and we will therefore see a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.
- Methane capture and combustion. Large amounts of methane are produced by commercial animal production, landfills, and industrial wastes. Methane has a global warming potential 23 times that of carbon dioxide. Combustion of methane which would have otherwise been released into the atmosphere not only produces energy but reduces the overall greenhouse gas contribution by 96%.
- Energy Efficiency. By making our homes, businesses, and travel more energy efficient, we again reduce the need to burn fossil fuels. Energy efficiency projects help spread the use of new technology like compact florescent lighting which allow us to use less energy to accomplish the same task. Energy efficiency projects are typically one of the most cost effective ways to reduce carbon emissions.
- Reforestation. Tropical deforestation accounts for approximately 20% of the world’s CO2 emissions. Planting additional trees help to restore this natural balance. Carbon sequestration is the process of absorption of atmospheric carbon by trees and other plants. Carbon sequestration rates vary by species, soil type, climate, and management practice. In the US Forest sequestration rates of 2 -4 tons annually per acre of forest are common.
Our Offset Partner
Green Shipping is focused on calculating the CO2 emissions from shipments. Rather than starting carbon offset projects ourselves, we have chosen to partner with and purchase carbon offsets from Bonneville Environmental Foundation (BEF). There are a number of carbon offset organizations to choose from. Here’s why we like BEF:
- BEF is a non-profit organization and uses proceeds from the offset sales to fund environmental education, to expand the use of renewable energy, and for projects like restoration of watersheds.
- Only 2% of US electricity is generated from renewable resources. While reduction of global carbon emissions is the goal, BEF Carbon Offsets fund the construction of NEW renewable energy projects in North America which are displacing polluting fossil-fuel generation.
- All of the renewable sources of BEF’s Carbon Offsets meet rigorous environmental criteria endorsed by leading regional and national environmental organizations including The Natural Resources Defense Council.
- For more information about BEF's Carbon Offsets, please visit www.b-e-f.org
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