What is a Carbon Dioxide Offset?

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by Benard Omondi
7 min read

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Carbon dioxide offsetting is an effective way of reducing carbon emissions to safe levels and saving the climate. You can use the terms “carbon dioxide offset,” “carbon disoxide offset credit”, and “offset” interchangeably. They sometimes refer to slightly different things depending on the context. What is carbon dioxide offset in this context? Some people like you use “carbon dioxide offset” or “offset” to refer to reducing carbon emissions or increasing carbon storage. They can also use “carbon offset credit” as a certified instrument that represents an emission reduction of a metric ton of carbon dioxide.

In this article, we adopt the common practice of using “carbon dioxide offset” or “offset” to describe the act of carbon offsetting and the credit that an organization or individual can purchase to decrease their carbon footprint.

If an organization or individual’s carbon footprint and carbon dioxide offset credits are equal, the entity is carbon dioxide neutral. We need a significant increase in carbon-neutral organizations and individuals today.

Why is Carbon Dioxide Offset Important?

Carbon dioxide offset doesn’t stop carbon dioxide emissions from taking place. Instead, it encourages polluters to fund other organizations or people to do so on their behalf. That’s why it doesn’t offer a perfect solution. Even so, the approach remains essential today for several reasons.

Find the main reasons why offsetting is still essential today below.

Protects Forests and Provides Secure Habitats

According to researchers at Stanford University, paying forest owners for the service gives countries with extensive forests an opportunity to protect and improve natural habitats. It allows forest owners to improve the way they manage their land. In most cases, this involves reducing deforestation. It can also include adopting modern management practices to improve existing forests. These practices can have a long-term impact on land fertility. They can also help provide a safe habitat for endangered species worldwide.

Provides Funding for Environmental Projects

Carbon dioxide offsetting encourages polluters to fund some entities to stop producing greenhouse gasses. An Australian data center provider, NEXTDC, recently unveiled the country’s first carbon-neutral colocation service. They have agreed with a sustainability initiative that Qantas and Tasman Environmental Markets spearhead to purchase carbon offsets. They will use the income to protect pristine habitats like the Great Barrier Reef and restore rainforests and wetlands. Moreover, they’ll use it to support sustainable land management practices.

Most innovative ideas like the one cited above are less likely to attract traditional funding during their launch due to the risks involved. So, environmentalists often struggle to source funding for most first-of-their-kind projects.

Carbon dioxide offsetting plays a significant role today since it addresses this challenge. It offers a valuable alternative to traditional funding methods. Once the projects have succeeded and proven their viability, similar, follow-on projects find it much easier to attract funding from the sources.

Gives Regulators a Tool to Implement Environmental Policies

Many countries currently want their citizens to purchase carbon dioxide offsets voluntarily. However, there are places where regulators have enacted strict policies. They rely on the carbon offset system to enact and enforce them.

Helps Consumers Identify Green Companies

Companies and other business entities use the carbon dioxide offset system to determine their compliance with environmental regulations. After getting the results, these organizations can claim their business is “carbon dioxide neutral” without fear. Better still, they can use the system’s structure to track their carbon footprint. Since most consumers like working with companies that protect the environment, carbon offset is a great business tool. You can use it to attract and retain more customers in any field in today’s competitive business environment.

Reduces Carbon Dioxide

Diagram of the chemical formula for carbon dioxide and a leaf on a blackboard

We started by answering the common question, “what is a carbon dioxide offset?” We have seen how it plays a central role in combating climate change.

Our assertion agrees with findings from credible studies, confirming that carbon dioxide offsetting provides some of the most economical ways to reduce greenhouse gasses.

Steps to Offset Carbon Emissions

Carbon dioxide offset is essential, but you should ensure the carbon measurements are accurate to reap the intended outcome. While no system is perfect, we should address this issue during the current climate emergency to avoid climate change.

If you want to do this well, follow the approved steps to offset your carbon emissions. These steps are:

Calculate your carbon footprint

How do you calculate your carbon footprint? If you are asking this question, use a reputable carbon print calculator. There are plenty of options out there. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and other NGOs have the most respected online calculators. You can use them to calculate emissions from cars, businesses, events, homes, and more. To minimize risks, be sure you try at least two or three calculators before concluding you’ve arrived at an accurate figure.

Contact a credible organization specializing in calculating carbon footprints if you need help. These steps will save you from using complex formulas to determine your carbon footprint.

Reduce your emissions

Take cost-saving actions. Find below some tips you can use to reduce your emissions.


Healthy fruits/foods

  • Only buy foods that you need (avoid wastage)
  • Limit the consumption of beef and other meat products
  • Bring reusable shopping bags
  • Avoid excessive plastic packaging


  • Take the best care of your attires
  • Buy clothes made from environment-friendly factories
  • Try buying second-hand, borrowing, or swapping

Learn more about environmental impact of our wardrobes

Energy and waste

  • Turn down the heating by at least a degree Celsius. This action can reduce your energy consumption by approximately eight percent.
  • Recycle wastes
  • Use energy-efficient items with energy labels, e.g., ‘A’ label-LED bulbs can save over 90% of your lighting energy costs.
  • Only store essential data in the cloud
  • Take short showers
  • Use water economically
  • Unplug your electronic equipment when not in use- Turning off or unplugging your LCD TV for 18 hours per day will help you save about 5kg of carbon dioxide annually.

Offset Your Emissions

Step two above is essential, but you can’t reduce your emissions to zero. So, think about offsetting once you realize you can’t lower your emissions any further.
Choose the right project from a service provider with strict protocols for offsets management. Ensure the projects are verified against international standards such as the Certified Reductions, Gold Standard, and Verified Carbon Standard (VCS) to avoid last-minute regrets. Moreover, ensure the service’s ongoing management of their offset portfolio is fully traceable and audited.

Receive Carbon Dioxide Offset Credit

If you follow the steps above religiously, you can be assured of earning offset credit that’s proportional to your contribution to the project. A single carbon credit equals one ton of carbon dioxide you’ve avoided. You should receive a genuine certificate that confirms the credits you’ve earned.

How You Can Earn Carbon Dioxide Offset Credit

As already indicated above, there are plenty of ways to earn carbon dioxide offsets. Here are some of the primary examples:

Forestry projects

These projects promote the sequestration and absorption of carbon dioxide by forests and soils. The Trees for Cities, The National Forest, and the Woodland Trust are examples that support carbon dioxide offsetting in the UK.

Brazil’s reducing deforestation and Kenya’s tree planting project are other excellent examples.

Renewable energy projects

Renewable energy projects are also popular across the world. They allow industries, households, and individuals to produce cleaner energy and substitute polluting fuel for green energy. The Gandhi project, which refers to the construction of a wind farm in India to develop green energy, is a project you can invest in to earn offsets.

These projects develop sustainable technologies that produce heat, cold, and electricity and minimize energy consumption in transport and construction. They also increase industrial efficiency.

Reforestation project

Examples include the biomass conservation-efficient stoves project in Malawi, Africa, ONIL stoves Guatemala in Guatemala, and Heqing solar cooker in China. Others are the solar project by ACME group in India, Asia, Cai Be rice husk thermal energy generation in Vietnam, and the breathing space improved cooking stoves program in India.

The information above implies that most carbon dioxide offset projects are implemented in developing countries. That’s correct. The projects tend to have a more significant impact at lower costs in these regions. They are often subject to the generation of carbon dioxide offset credits.

Offsetting projects implemented in developed countries are often not subjected to these credits. For example, the reforestation project implemented in the UK is already accounted for in the government’s national reduction targets. It isn’t subjected to the same.


What is carbon dioxide offset? If you are still asking this, the answer is they are credits that allow you to build environmental projects that reduce carbon dioxide emissions beyond what you can achieve through individual action. Once you earn the credits, you can sell them to fund ecological projects and minimize the impact of your emissions. Carbon dioxide offset also has social and economic benefits. As you can see, carbon dioxide offset is essential. However, it can’t stop carbon dioxide emissions from taking place. So, all polluters should commit to carbon neutrality to solve climate change fast.