Carbon Offsets 101

HOW CARBON OFFSETS WORK AS PART OF THE SOLUTION

 

Climate change is one of the greatest challenges of our time. By simply participating in modern society – eating, working, shopping, building, traveling – we generate an unavoidable carbon footprint that cannot be eliminated through individual lifestyle choices alone. It has become necessary that, in addition to making our personal footprint as small as possible, we go beyond to participate in ground-breaking emission reduction technologies that accelerate the global transition to a low carbon, sustainable economy.

Carbon offsets are one such solution - a convenient and effective way to reduce global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions beyond what we can achieve through individual lifestyle choices. By purchasing and permanently retiring carbon offsets, we fund projects that offset significant amounts of global GHG emissions – projects that would not exist without the support of carbon offset finance. In carbon finance lingo, this is called additionality.

Carbon offsets (VERs - Verified Emission Reductions, and CERs - Certified Emission Reductions) are created when independent organizations like the Climate Action Reserve (CAR), the Verified Carbon Standard (VCS), The Gold Standard, and The Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) rigorously review a new project’s potential to reduce GHG emissions according to a standardized, scientific approach. Once the GHG reduction is created, measured and third-party verified, each carbon offset represents the reduction of one metric ton (2,205 lbs) of carbon dioxide equivalent emissions (CO2-e) that are permanently removed or prevented from entering the atmosphere. The VER or CER is placed into an environmental commodity registry and can then be purchased and permanently retired in the marketplace.

Wind and solar energy projects produce zero emission energy that replaces the need to extract and burn fossil fuels to meet our current energy demand, while also building the vital clean energy infrastructure that will sustain future generations. Landfill gas capture projects generate carbon offsets by capturing and destroying methane that would otherwise be emitted into the atmosphere at 25 times the global warming potential of carbon dioxide. Native forest and wetland conservation projects, as well as "blue carbon" projects, remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere to play an important role in carbon reduction through capture and sequestration.

By funding these types of projects with the voluntary purchase of carbon offsets, we are able to achieve verifiable, measurable and permanent GHG emission reductions. We are thereby able to compensate for the unavoidable emissions that we are unable to fully eliminate with individual lifestyle choices alone. 

 

HOW CARBON CHECKOUT WORKS AS PART OF THE SOLUTION

 

Carbon Checkout pools contributions made at checkout on our e-commerce partner sites to buy VERs - Verified Emission Reductions, and CERs - Certified Emission Reductions in volume from carefully vetted projects. Our crowdfunding model allows individuals to purchase carbon offsets at a volume-discounted rate that previously was only reserved for large corporate investors. For every $1 contributed, Carbon Checkout offsets 245 pounds of GHG emissions that would have otherwise been released into the atmosphere. Our offsets are currently trading at $4.08 per 1,000 pounds of emission reductions, the lowest trading price of any retail carbon offset provider.

Our primary investment strategy is focused on utility scale wind infrastructure, with investments going primarily to the Oaxaca Wind Power Complex in North America and the Punta Palmera Wind Farm in Chile. However, we are actively diversifying our project portfolio to include wind and solar projects that resonate regionally with our customers that span the globe, as well as incorporating carbon capture projects that convert emissions to energy, both landfill and agricultural emissions. To this end, we have invested in the Greenwood Landfill Gas to Energy Project in South Carolina, with captured landfill gas (LFG) powering a nearby FUJIFILM manufacturing facility. 

The carbon offset projects we endorse and fund are third-party verified by the Climate Action Reserve (CAR), Verified Carbon Standard (VCS), The Gold Standard, and/or The Clean Development Mechanism (CDM). This oversight ensures that all contributions are directed to only the highest quality projects, that:

  1. have been rigorously and independently verified;
  2. are additional to business-as-usual, meaning the project would not otherwise be developed without your carbon offset contribution; and
  3. have emission reductions that are both measurable and permanent according to the highest internationally recognized standards.

In the spirit of transparency and increased consumer engagement, we generate a personal Carbon Checkout portfolio for every customer, where they can track all personal carbon offset contributions and learn about the projects they help to make possible. The unique verification code for each contribution correlates with a pooled investment that is permanently retired on one of the two environmental commodity registries, APX and Markit. We are currently building out additional specs for the Carbon Checkout portfolio to include more information on each project, along with personal metrics, and documentation from third-party audits.

Connect with Carbon Checkout’s Facebook and Twitter feeds as we continue to expand our carbon offset project portfolio and Crowdfund for Climate Change!