Home/Carbon offsets: the myths, the facts and how you can truly make a difference
February 15, 2021

It has become a common trend for businesses to give you the option to pay a small fee on top of your purchase to offset your carbon footprint.

It began with airlines (at least it first became popular with airlines) and has since expanded to include books, cars, electricity and more. There are also various sites that allow you to buy carbon credits so offset your personal carbon footprint.

On paper, this is all well and good but which businesses are truly taking your money and using it to make a difference and which ones are being less ethical? We explore the facts and myths of the carbon offset industry.

Let’s start with the facts

This article is not about doom and gloom – quite the opposite. Offsets and your carbon footprint are important topics, and the money you invest goes towards environmental projects that make a real difference.

You can do this yourself by using an online carbon calculator to discover your carbon footprint and then visit a site where you can pay a fee to offset your footprint. This money is then used for environmental projects, which are usually rolled out in developing countries. As long as you do your due diligence on the platforms offering these opportunities, this is a great way to contribute towards a net-zero carbon future.

What about the myths of carbon offsets?

Any industry involving the exchange of money is going to include people that will try and exploit it for their own personal gain. This has led many to question the carbon offset industry, finding themselves unable to trust it as a result.

Here are the facts on some of the common questions asked. We want to help you gain some clarity on how you can offset your footprint, without fear of your funds being misappropriated:

Is it a scam?

The most common question we hear focuses on the whole concept being a rort, which is not true. Support projects that meet reputable offsetting verification standards, such as Gold Standard or Verra – and those who offer transparency over where your funds are channelled, are considered valid.

Carbon offsets are too niche to make a difference 

This may have been true once, but not anymore. This is not a movement of a small group of environments; it is widely used across the planet and massive companies like Microsoft purchase offsets to maintain a climate-friendly stance.

Offsetting does not directly address emissions 

Fortunately, those that sell offsets are required to provide a metric called ‘additionality’, which indicates the emission reduction would not have happened without the project that was funded.

Businesses that do purchase carbon offsets are generally perceived better by prospective customers; not only are you making a difference for the greater good, but your actions neutralise your carbon footprint and benefit your company along the way.