STANFORD UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF EARTH SCIENCES - EARTH SYSTEMS PROGRAM

Sustainable Choices

Explore Carbon Offsets or Renewable Energy Certificates

Simplicity:
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Carbon Impact:
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Money Savings:
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Health Helper:
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Overview
Carbon offsets are a way to mitigate your carbon emissions that you can’t avoid. While carbon offsets and renewable energy certificates do not actually remove carbon from the atmosphere, they do in theory prevent additional carbon emissions by supporting renewable energy and other carbon-reducing activities. Anyone wishing to reduce their carbon footprint should first look elsewhere on the Web site for actions that they can take to cut back on carbon emissions. Once you have exhausted these possibilities, you can evaluate your remaining carbon footprint and buy carbon offsets or renewable energy certificates to mitigate.

Tips & Tricks
Cut back on your carbon emissions first, and offset second. Carbon offsets do not directly rein in you emissions. The only way to take full responsibility is to directly reduce your personal emissions. Use the offsets for the remaining emissions.

Calculate your emissions. Most carbon offset programs have emissions calculators on their Web sites. Use the calculators to find out where your week spots are.

Web & Print Resources
Calculate your carbon emissions:
www.climatecrisis.net

Renewable energy certificates:
www.eere.energy.gov
www.villagegreenenergy.com

Certified carbon offset programs:
www.eere.energy.gov
www.fightglobalwarming.com
www.ecobusinesslinks.com
www.cleanair-coolplanet.org

Carbon offset program Web sites:
www.nativeenergy.com
www.terrapass.com
www.carbonfund.org
www.atmosclear.org
www.e-bluehorizons.com
www.liveneutral.org
www.drivinggreen.com
www.carbonneutral.com
www.cleanerclimate.com
www.climatefriendly.com
www.sustainabletravelinternational.org
www.b-e-f.org
www.myclimate.org
www.globalcool.org

Article:
http://gristmill.grist.org/story/2006/5/30/164235/746

Personal Story
This material originally appeared in Grist.com article “On Your Mark, Offset, Go!” by Erica Gies (October 10, 2006).

When I returned from a trip to India last January, I resolved to buy offsets, and promptly hopped on Google. There was no shortage of organizations lining up to take my money, although quite a few wanted euros or other foreign currencies. However, even those dealing in dollars quickly left me flummoxed, because they calculated my flight at dramatically different costs. Sure, I'd love to pay $12 rather than $92, but would I be cheating the environment? Where do they get these figures? And then there was the profusion of projects I could help fund: wind energy, traffic remediation, tree planting.

To read more, see www.grist.org

Fun Facts

To offset 1 year of driving a hybrid car for the average person, Terra Pass charges $29.95. Offsets for an SUV would cost $79.95.

Carbon offset programs fund everything from wind-power to reforestation to waste digesters.