The myth of carbon neutrality

From the Carbon Trade Watch publication The Carbon Neutral Myth – Offset Indulgences for your Climate Sins,

the idea of achieving climate neutrality through offsetting is no more than media spin. First, it takes 100 years to fully cancel out the carbon effect of one aeroplane flight. Second, the more you fly, the more you need to offset, and finally, depending on how quickly you think offsetting needs to happen, it is also more expensive to offset than Climate Care [a company selling emission offsets] would lead us to believe.

How much should we be paying to offset? Let’s go back to the original table of offset time objectives. How much should we be paying to Climate Care if we want to achieve our objectives:



So what can we conclude?

First, we are told that offsetting makes us climate neutral when it doesn’t. Each time we fly, our emissions go up.

Second, offsetting is far too cheap. Depending on how quickly we think we need to offset, we need to be paying as much as 15,000 times more to see our emissions offset in a sensible time frame…

That doesn’t mean we should feel guilty for not paying £86,402 ($169,684) in offsets for a New York to London flight. It also doesn’t mean that the offset scheme is totally harebrained. After all, it works for Climate Care.


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