This post is a part of my CLIMATE CONUNDRUM Series. See all posts in this series here - The problem with offsets - India Renewable Energy Consulting – Solar, Biomass, Wind, Cleantech
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The problem with offsets

If yours were a large steel company throwing out millions of tons of CO2 emissions every year, but unable to reduce these emissions because of the constraints of the current technologies and processes used to produce steel, you can still contribute to “reduced emissions” by investing in decarbonization projects such as a afforestation project or a solar power plant.

This does appear like an excellent transition avenue for decarboniaztion, doesn’t it? A lot better than your steel company doing nothing or hoping for a silver bullet innovation to reduce your own emissions?

The challenges with, and concerns about, carbon offsets are a bit more nuanced.

Some critics feel that offsetting emissions through carbon credits is really like a sinner saying “I will continue sinning but will compensate someone else.” In my opinion, this is a rather harsh analogy because, unlike most sinners who in theory can stop sinning, it will be very difficult – if not impossible – for many corporates to decrease their emissions within a short amount of time. So, for these hard-to-abate sectors, carbon offsets provide a practical, transition pathway to reduce their net emissions for many companies.

But isn’t it possible that, because of the availability of offsets, these corporates might delay biting the bullet on hard decisions and investments needed to rectify the fundamental reasons for their high emissions?

In other words, is it possible that your steel company would have innovated and reconfigured much faster to a lower or zero emission company without the carbon offsets option than with it?

See my LinkedIn post on this topic

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