This is the second article in a series on carbon offsets.
Recently, I conducted a survey to better understand why more small businesses and individuals don’t purchase carbon offsets to achieve carbon neutrality. One concern expressed by respondents is that carbon offsets don’t really work to reduce atmospheric carbon dioxide. Together, we’ll explore expert responses to that concern.
One pleasant surprise of the survey was how few (fewer that 6.8%) said they didn’t purchase carbon offsets because they believe climate change is not a threat and fewer still (just 4.3%) said climate change is threat but is not connected to human activity.
Among the nine options given for not purchasing carbon offsets, the next least selected (7.7%) after the climate skepticism noted above, was that “Carbon offsets do not reduce atmospheric carbon; carbon emissions should be reduced at scale via government policies that tax and/or restrict emissions.”
Similarly, 16.2% of respondents said, “Due to a lack of standards and regulation there is no way I can be sure my purchase of carbon offsets actually results in a corresponding reduction in carbon emissions.” This misapprehension is gravely wrong.
Read more about the survey here.
Still, the question of efficacy is a fair one. Lisa Song, a Pulitzer prize winner, wrote an expose of the ineffectiveness of carbon credits for ProPublica last year. In the piece, she quotes Princeton researcher Timothy Searchinger as saying carbon credits are “the worst possible idea—except for everything else.”
Scrutiny such as Song’s ProPublica article provides should improve the efficacy of carbon offsets over time. The market