The Role of Carbon Offsetting to Reach Net-Zero

  • Ben Perrett
  • 28th September 2021

As climate change continues to wreak havoc on Earth, more companies are creating strategies to align to net-zero carbon. Before we delve deeper into the role of carbon offsetting in reaching net-zero carbon, we would like to define some things.

Firstly, the definition of net-zero carbon or “net-zero” is a target of completely negating the number of greenhouse gases produced by human activity, to be achieved by reducing emissions and implementing methods of absorbing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. In short - bringing all of our anthropological greenhouse emissions to zero.

Secondly, the definition of carbon offsetting is described as the action or process of compensating for carbon dioxide emissions arising from industrial or other human activity, by participating in programs designed to make equivalent reductions of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. In short - the utilisation of techniques such as tree planting, for example, to dampen and reduce the amount of carbon dioxide emissions in the atmosphere.
In this article, we discuss the role of carbon offsetting in the overall strategy of getting us to net-zero.

There are two distinct categories of carbon offsetting; carbon avoidance and carbon removal. Carbon avoidance projects deal with the reduction of carbon emitted into the atmosphere. Using things such as renewable energy resources or lower-carbon fuels, carbon avoidance entails reducing our carbon emissions by simply changing what power sources and fuels we use.

Carbon removal projects sequester carbon through the use of trees and other nature-based solutions such as algae to capture and remove carbon emissions from the atmosphere. There are even direct air capture technologies that aim to find a way to remove carbon from the atmosphere using technology.

Either way, both categories can contribute to the planet reaching net-zero. We must have a cocktail of solutions to the current climate crisis and offsetting with an accredited program is a genuine contributor to the decarbonisation challenge. We do however need to be careful when considering the scale of offsets, as offsetting could encourage politicians, companies or even individuals to dial back on actions that will reduce emissions today for example, by deciding not to fund energy efficiency schemes in favour of offsetting.


If we utilise the dual-pronged approach of both carbon avoidance and carbon removal, our race to net-zero carbon will happen at a much-accelerated rate. From a governmental standpoint, by giving more funding towards clean energy and renewable energy industries - we can develop more efficient solar arrays, streamline hydroelectric power, and put a larger emphasis on hydrogen cell energy. Furthermore, granting incentives to own an electric vehicle and own solar energy systems would help fight climate change at a local level. With the combination of local action and offsetting such as adding more trees within cities or by simply investing in direct air capture technologies, you can reduce the level of carbon in the atmosphere at an increased rate.

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