We are so sick of the rush into carbon offsets. This is a classic case of big companies and big government avoiding actually addressing the core issue and doing some window dressing to trick people into thinking they are.
For context, the essential idea of a carbon offset is when an entity, usually a private company, offsets its own carbon footprint by allocating money towards things like buying carbon credits, donating to climate NGOs, investing in future green technology (such as carbon capture), etc…so in simple terms, if a company produces X amount of carbon annually, they are aiming to buy the exact same X amount of offsets to get to carbon neutrality, another pet peeve of ours.
This is just accounting. A similar comparison would be when a wealthy person avoids paying taxes by “hiding” their net income behind future investments, overseas reserves, charitable donations (which often go to a trust they directly control and essentially own). They are doing totally legal creative accounting to hide their income in a way others can not. Thus no taxes owed.
Now not all offsets are made equal, and some are much more legitimate than others, but by and large, most offsets are also a form of creative accounting. They allow a company who’s core product or service is highly destructive to the environment to avoid improving that at all via focusing on offsets.
Net-Zero is not the right target. As this article from The Conservation points out, Net-Zero licenses the philosophy of “burn now and pay later”. As in, keep doing what you are doing and we’ll give you some accounting tools to make yourselves feel better later on.
Carbon offsets are only useful as a companion tool next to making significant changes to how you operate. They are being given way too much clout and recognition and it’s a dangerous game.
We call bullshit.