What is carbon offsetting? A simple guide that explains everything you need to know

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What is carbon offsetting? A simple guide that explains everything you need to know

Carbon offsetting has always been a confusing and misunderstood topic. If you asked most people what it was, they wouldn’t be totally sure they had the answer. In reality, it isn’t as complex as people think. Sure, the science behind it is pretty advanced, but we don’t have to understand every equation behind it to know what it is – let’s face it, we don’t need to know how electromagnetic waves work to listen to the radio. In simple terms, carbon offsetting is a way for you to balance the carbon emissions that contribute to your carbon footprint. This sounds great, doesn’t it? But what does this actually mean? What are carbon offsets? Where do they come from? How do they really help the environment? We are going to answer the important questions; we’re going to give you the lowdown of how carbon offsetting works and how Earth Rewards can help you balance your very own carbon footprint.

One of the biggest factors of our carbon footprint, air travel. Photo by Emanuel Alexandru on Unsplash

What is a ‘carbon footprint’?

Every one of us has a carbon footprint. Simply put, everything we do in our day to day lives results in some carbon emissions entering the Earth’s atmosphere. From cooking a meal to driving a car, having a shower to taking a flight, these all generate carbon emissions to one level or another. These emissions are calculated in tonnes of CO2e (carbon dioxide equivalent to give its full title) which is the standard unit for measuring carbon impacts. To put some kind of perspective on this for you – the average UK person has a carbon footprint of 12 tonnes per year. So as we go about our daily lives, we are all quietly contributing to the overall carbon emissions of the planet. There are a number of things we can do to reduce our carbon footprint: using the car less, wasting less food, turning our electrical appliances off rather than leaving them on standby. But there are some emissions that cannot be avoided, or reduced, so what can we do about them? This is where carbon offsetting can help.

Where do carbon offsets come from?

Around the world, numerous projects are working hard to reduce the number of emissions being generated or avoid emissions being released into the atmosphere at all. These projects are collectively known as carbon projects. These carbon projects are independently verified and certified that they are genuinely contributing to the reduction or avoidance of emissions in the atmosphere. Once these projects have been fully independently verified, they can be issued with carbon offset certificates (digitally generated rather than paper, to keep their footprint to a minimum ofc!). A certificate is issued for each tonne of CO2 the project has successfully avoided or reduced. The projects that are getting certified as helping to reduce carbon emissions are doing wonderful things such as protecting existing forests, reforestation, converting waste to energy or generating renewable energy just to name a few examples.

By using carbon offsets from one of the amazing carbon projects from around the world, it means that you have contributed to them being able to reduce the amount of CO2 emissions in the atmosphere.

How does carbon offsetting work?

The carbon offset certificates that these projects are achieving can then be used by all of us, to help balance our carbon emissions. Every tonne of carbon that has been reduced or avoided through these projects can balance a tonne of carbon that we have emitted through our everyday lives. This creates balance. So, if for example, your carbon footprint was 12 tonnes per year (the UK average if you were paying attention at the back) and you were able to reduce it by 2 tonnes by using the car less, changing to a meat-free diet or through other lifestyle changes that work for you, you’re still left with a carbon footprint of 10 tonnes. Reducing to this is great and you deserve a virtual pat on the back no question, but what do you do about these emissions you can’t avoid? By using carbon offsets from one of the amazing carbon projects around the world, you have personally contributed to them being able to reduce the amount of CO2 emissions in the atmosphere. Therefore, cancelling out the emissions from your footprint. This means that when you’ve offset, you’ve reduced your overall carbon footprint even further.

But how does this actually help the carbon projects?

All the hard work these carbon projects are doing to help the environment means the carbon offsets they achieve can be used by us to balance our emissions. This is fantastic news for us, but the projects need funding to continue achieving these remarkable results and we need the offsets to balance our carbon footprint. It’s a perfect match – the carbon equivalent of a swipe right from Earth itself. So, in short, purchasing carbon offsets contributes to funding these carbon projects to ensure they can continue their great work reducing the carbon emissions in the atmosphere.

A traditional rubber tapper at work in The Trocano Project area.

Where does Earth Rewards’ carbon offsets come from?

Earth Rewards supports The Trocano Project; a forest protection and avoided deforestation project in the Amazon Rainforest. They do a brilliant job at keeping the existing forest standing so it can continue to absorb CO2 from the atmosphere. Through doing this, the project also helps protect the precious biodiversity within the forest; the animals, insects, birds and the entire ecosystem it contains. This is biodiversity that is vital to the ongoing health of the global environment. The project also helps to provide social and economic benefits to the 10,700 people that live within the project area. A fine example of the benefits the communities receive include access to clean drinking water, renewable energy supply, healthcare facilities, building and renovating schools and community centres.

How does Earth Rewards help offset my carbon footprint?

In the Earth Rewards app, carbon offsets from The Trocano Project are transformed into collectable Earth Rewards points. Each point has been assigned a carbon offset value of 1kg CO2e. So, if you had 10 points, you could offset 10kg of CO2e from your carbon footprint. Easy to remember, isn’t it? 1 point = 1kg. The more points you collect, the more you are contributing to ensuring the project continues to protect the rainforest which is crucial so the trees continue to absorb CO2 from the atmosphere. The more you protect, the more you can offset your carbon footprint too!

How secure are Earth Rewards points?

Very! We use our bespoke blockchain network, Hachiko, to track each and every Earth Rewards point. This ensures that all points are securely and immutably transacted, and when they are used to offset your carbon footprint, the carbon value of the points is permanently retired. This is to make sure that Earth Rewards point are only used to balance your footprint once – think of them as single-use only, but with much less plastic!

Want to join Earth Rewards and offset CO2?

We’re on the Android and iOS store! It’s completely free to download, sign-up, earn your first Earth Rewards points, support the project and offset CO2. There are 100 points ready to claim for free which is 100kg CO2e offset from your carbon footprint (that’s like your phone’s emissions for an entire year and more!) Tap the button below to take you where you need to go to find us and we’ll be happy to welcome you on board.


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