What are carbon offset schemes?

A carbon offset scheme is a way to compensate for emissions caused by travel or lifestyle choices. Carbon offsets take place when one company or individual pays to have another company reduce or capture emissions elsewhere in the world.

How does carbon offset work?

When you purchase a carbon offset, you are essentially paying to have another company reduce emissions elsewhere in the world. For every ton of CO2 you emit, your chosen offset provider will invest in a project that will prevent or remove an equivalent amount of CO2 from the atmosphere.

There are many different types of carbon offset projects, from renewable energy projects, forestry and land management initiatives to direct air acpture technologies. Some schemes require you to purchase credits, while others allow you to donate money or resources to projects that reduce carbon dioxide emissions.

How much do carbon offset schemes cost?

The cost of carbon offset schemes varies, but they are usually affordable. The cost of a carbon offset scheme is usually stated in terms of pounds per tonne of carbon dioxide captured and permanently stored. The price may vary between £10 per ton for a forestry project in Africa to £300 per ton for a direct air capture scheme in Europe.

Why are carbon offset schemes often criticised?

Many people object to carbon offset schemes because they believe they are a way for companies to avoid responsibility for their emissions. The idea is that by buying carbon offsets, companies can say they have taken action to reduce their emissions and avoid penalties from the government. Critics argue that this is a way for companies to avoid taking real action, and that the money spent on carbon offsets is simply being used to buy off the public.


Carbon offset schemes are a way of reducing your carbon footprint. They are not perfect, but they can be  effective if used correctly. They should not be used as a licence to increase emissions. Consult an expert before buying into a scheme.

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