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Carbon Offsets: How and why should we purchase them?

Updated: Mar 28, 2022

Singapore is ranked 27th out of 142 countries in terms of carbon emissions per capita. 45% of these emissions come from our industries. No doubt, as an economy strongly reliant on our businesses, Singapore unavoidably releases harmful amounts of carbon emissions every year. However, throughout the years we’ve managed to find ways to compensate for our damage to the environment.

What Are Carbon Offsets?

Image source: Sustainable Travel International

Carbon offsets are the removal or reduction of emission of greenhouse gases through compensation. For example, on a personal level, if you release emissions by driving a car to work everyday, you compensate for those emissions through funding the planting of trees which would absorb the same amount of carbon as your car emitted. The idea is that you cannot prevent carbon emissions in this day and age where almost everything is based on energy fuelled by fossil fuels. So rather than not do anything about your damage, carbon offsets exist to try and make up for all the carbon you’ve produced.

On an industry scale, there is a high demand for carbon offsets in Singapore. Ever since the carbon tax was implemented in 2019, and its upcoming raise in 2024, companies have been pushed to take more environmentally friendly actions.

Image source: GIPhotoStock/Getty Images/Cultura RF

Carbon offsets are beneficial to us because it funds small environmental projects which earn little to no money for their work. Not only does it compensate for your own carbon emissions, but the money made through trading offsets is used for generation of renewable energy, reforestation, etc. We can reduce and eliminate the effects of our carbon emissions while also helping to kickstart other projects that solve more issues elsewhere than just our greenhouse gas emissions, this could even have a massive global impact.

The top carbon certifications include:

The most widely used voluntary greenhouse gases program. VCS ensures the credibility of emissions reduction projects, making sure change is actually happening. Certification from VCS requires a rigorous assessment process. All projects cover a variety of sectors and follow the “VCS Standard” which is a curated model projects must meet in order to receive certification.

With the vision “Climate security and sustainable development for all”, the Gold Standard uses customised methodology to verify the impact on various activities. Gold Standard for the Global Goals also created its own model which is ISEAL(a global membership association for credible sustainability standards) code compliant. Gold Standard maximises climate and development activities.

Climate Action Reserve is a renowned carbon offset registry for North America. They encourage the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and set high industry standards while overseeing overseas third-party verification bodies. They can be praised for their transparent process and rigorously high standards. Their mission is “to develop, promote and support innovative, credible market-based climate change solutions that benefit economies, ecosystems and society.”

Plan Vivo believes that “action should be taken to aid communities on the forefront of the climate crisis”. That is why their work revolves around the people who have been affected by climate change the most. They ensure their projects capture carbon from the air which are claimed by their certificates, which are then sold to fund their operations to help the people. They are an internationally recognised certification body with a solid framework which guides their programs.

The Center for Resources Solution’s Green-e certification program is trusted worldwide as a leader in clean energy certification. They “advocate for the advancement of clean energy policy, markets, and technology, and believe in their economic and environmental benefits”. They also follow a strict set of procedures in order to set new standards, making them widely known and trusted.

CCBA is a partnership between various international NGOs. Their mission is to “stimulate and promote land management activities that credibly mitigate global climate change, improve the well-being and reduce the poverty of local communities, and conserve biodiversity”. They have a transparent process to develop standards which “foster the integration of best-practice and multiple-benefit approaches into project design and implementation”.

The CDM is a United Nations mechanism which allows certain countries to implement carbon reduction activities in developing countries. The CDM is the first of its kind, it created a standardised emissions offset instrument called the Certified Emission Reduction credit(CER). The CDM acts as a guideline of sorts for other carbon certification programs and is overseen by a special board of officials, the CDM Executive Board. It is undoubtedly a trustworthy and revolutionary mechanism.

That leads us to the question: “how do we obtain carbon offsets?” You can purchase offsets from different programs and companies, including the ones listed above, which work to fund environmental projects or replenish biodiversity(e.g. planting trees). You need not be a massive industry company in order to offset carbon. Simple emissions from our daily lives like leaving the air conditioning unit on in your house for the whole day can be compensated for through buying carbon offsets.

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