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Are carbon offsets worth it?

There has been quite a few articles on carbon offsets lately. What are they and are they just a money grab? I thought I would look into carbon offsets and some of the companies that are claiming to provide them. A lot of people ask “Why would you want to pay more money for a flight, on top of your already overpriced tickets?” To balance your highly polluting lifestyle.

Carbon offsetting air travel

One 2 hour flight for one passenger produces about 267.14 Kg of CO2. Just to put that in perspective, the average 2 hour car journey injects 780 Grams of CO2 (providing you aren’t driving a Prius or Volt). This is one of the biggest (preventable) producers of greenhouse gases today. (besides the oilsands)

So what does a eco-consious traveller do? Carbon offsets. Talk to your company, maybe they will help you out with offsetting on your next business trip. Here is a calculator to find out how much carbon your trip produces.

Carbon offsetting events and concerts

Events and concerts now are trying to be “carbon zero” but the only way they can really do this is by purchasing carbon offsets. You can’t completely run a U2 concert off of solar power yet. Yet… How much power does a U2 concert use? This produces and estimated 31,500 tonnes of CO2, carbon emissions that end up in our atmosphere.

So what does an event organizer do? Purchase carbon offsets and promote his or her event as such.

David Suzuki has an article on holding carbon neutral conferences and concerts: Link

Carbon offsetting homes

I subscribe to carbon offsets with my house. Even though my house is extremely efficient for a 100 year old house (800KWh a year!) I still like to be green and use a Canadian company called Bullfrog Power. Now obviously I don’t get all my energy from Bullfrog but I have given them access to my energy bill and they inject the amount of energy use that I use back into the power grid but through one of their wind farms. I pay and extra $11 a month for this piece of mind. It doesn’t mean my family becomes frivolous with our power. No, we still try and bring our KWh down as low as we can, but we feel a bit better about the energy that we do use. The average house produces 10,000 kg CO2 emissions. Hmm, what if you bought some carbon offsets, would that make your mind feel better?

Purchase consumer carbon offsets.

There are many companies out there that provide carbon offset services. Its really a hard sell for companies like this because most people are paying money for nothing more than piece of mind. If you took out that carbon offset bill out of any of these, the air trip would still happen, the concert would still rock, the home would still be powered. Is it the right thing to do? I like to think it is. Piece of mind knowing that your actions aren’t affecting the world in a negative way.
Here are a list of some of the companies I have found that provide carbon offsetting. Remember, the company doesn’t even have to be in your country for this to be effective. For a concert in England, you could still be buying offsets in USA and it would still have the same effect.

Companies offering Carbon Offsets

Disclaimer: I don’t work for any of these companies. I am a Bullfrog Power customer but the other companies listed here I have not tried.

Please feel free to add any others in your area or country that you know about. Here is the wikipedia entry on Carbon Offsets for more information.

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