Carbon offsets provoke carelessness

Reducing personal impact on climate change requires lifestyle changes, not money.

We are all trying to do our part to reduce our impact on global warming. Whether it is driving less, buying local produce, eating fewer meat products or using less electricity at home, we want to find ways to integrate ourselves into a more environmentally friendly way of life.

What is manageable varies from person to person, which is why some people are choosing to purchase “carbon offsets.” Although carbon offsets send funding to emission reduction innovation, they also send the message that people don’t have to make life changes if they have the money to make up for their lifestyle.

The idea of carbon offsets is well intended. Offset providers send purchasers’ money toward programs that plant trees or start renewable energy projects.

Many of these providers admit that it is hard to reduce personal emissions and that people cannot fix the problem as individuals. Therefore, people should purchase offsets to reduce their impact to zero, or to make up for other people who cannot do so.

Carbon offsets are doing good. They have eliminated millions of pounds of carbon emissions.

However, the message that carbon offsets send isn’t the right one. People shouldn’t be given such an easy alternative to making personal lifestyle changes.

Although it is important that every person does what they can to reduce their personal emissions, giving people an easy way out is not entirely helping. Carbon offset purchases are simply throwing money at the problem. Global warming is a trend that we will endure throughout our lifetimes, and we will need to make lifestyle changes to reduce its threat.

There is room for carbon offsets in the fight against climate change. However, we cannot view them as a means to an end. We need to change our habits in a way that we can sustain throughout our lives. Carbon offsets seem to be only a short term solution.