When and how to offset carbon?
Carbon offsetting, alongside carbon trading, are attempts to ‘marketise’ greenhouse gas emissions. As this briefing paper outlines, carbon offsets are, essentially, a voluntary and retrospective payment for the right to pollute. This has some merit, but there are other measures needed, e.g.: the ‘polluter pays’ principle, progressive carbon taxation, global governance (e.g. recognition of ‘ecocide’ as an international crime); and climate finance to support the transition to a cleaner world that is fair and just. Most critically, offsetting actions should never be a substitute for actions to reduce emissions at source.
In the paper “Putting a price on carbon” produced by Julie’s Bicycle and the Arts Council England you will find information about carbon offsets, what they are, and some alternative models. It is one part of a richer set of choices we need to make to address our short-term economic system making fast money on the basis of profoundly inadequate valuations that are at the heart of the climate, nature and social catastrophe.