Carbon Balanced, a World Land Trust (WLT) programme, enables individuals and companies to offset their unavoidable greenhouse gas emissions through the protection and restoration of carbon-rich wildlife habitats in the tropics. The following pages explain the process:
- What is Carbon Balanced offsetting and how are offsets achieved?
- How can companies calculate and offset their unavoidable emissions?
- How can individuals calculate and offset their unavoidable emissions?
- How are Carbon Balanced offsets designed?
- Where are these offsets achieved?
- How much will offsetting with World Land Trust cost?
Carbon offsetting is a process whereby an individual or company takes action to prevent the release of emissions elsewhere, or secures the absorption of atmospheric carbon dioxide, of an amount that matches or exceeds their own unavoidable emissions.
But why is it necessary and is it appropriate?
Climate change is already happening
There is now strong evidence that the world’s climate is changing. Various data sets analysed in different ways by several independent scientific research groups indicate that the global mean surface temperature has increased by approximately 0.75°C since 1990.
Human activity is the primary cause of observed climate change
Having detected unexpected changes in the Earth’s climate, scientists have set about attributing these changes to a range of possible causes. Models indicate that natural causes alone cannot explain fully the observed warming. This provides strong evidence that the release of greenhouse gases by human activities is the most likely cause of these changes.
Action is needed to avert dangerous climate change
Average global temperatures will rise further as the long-term rate of greenhouse gas emissions continues to increase, and concentrations of these gases in the Earth’s atmosphere build. Artificially warming our climate is dangerous. People and biodiversity across the planet will increasingly feel adverse effects.
To some extent people and biodiversity could adapt to very modest climate change if forced to do so. But it is generally acknowledged that as average warming approaches 2°C globally, options for adaptation become heavily constrained in many parts of the world. In fact, some places, notably small island states, will suffer very severe impacts as warming approaches 1.5°C. Further, in many places warming will far exceed the global average of 2°C. It is WLT’s view that global policy must seek to avoid a rise in global average surface temperatures approaching 1.5°C. Anything higher will endanger significant human populations and biodiversity, and is morally wrong.
Emissions reductions are required across all sectors of the world economy
To avoid dangerous climate change we must dramatically reduce the rate of greenhouse gas emissions. The scale of the challenge is immense and all sectors of the global economy have a role to play.
But some emissions are difficult to avoid
Notwithstanding the need to take concerted action urgently to reduce emissions, some will be difficult to avoid, at least in the short-term. For example, some key technologies are still being developed and it will take time to replace certain ‘dirty’ technologies with ‘clean’ alternatives. Further, some elements of the world economy by their nature emit greenhouse gases, cannot avoid doing so, and are important to human well-being.
Of course if one sector does not reduce its own emissions as far as is feasible, other sectors will need to make even deeper cuts if we are to collectively remain below the cap set by carbon budgets.
What can I do about my unavoidable emissions?
Unavoidable emissions can be offset
WLT’s Carbon Balanced programme provides a means for Individuals and companies to offset greenhouse gas emissions they cannot avoid. Offsetting is a process whereby an individual or company takes action to prevent the release of emissions elsewhere, or secures the absorption of atmospheric carbon, of an amount that matches or exceeds their own unavoidable emissions.
Offset unavoidable emissions by protecting and restoring key wildlife habitats
Terrestrial habitats, such as forests, grasslands and wet peatlands, contain large volumes of carbon in their biomass and soils. Yet these habitats are being destroyed or degraded at an unprecedented rate, releasing stored carbon into the atmosphere and contributing to global warming. Avoiding the imminent loss of existing habitats prevents the release of stored carbon, whilst enabling the regeneration of degraded habitats gradually re-absorbes atmospheric CO2.
WLT's Carbon Balanced programme offsets emissions by preventing the imminent destruction of threatened habitats and restoring degraded habitats.
WLT's Carbon Balanced offsets are carefully designed according to robust project design standards that ensure the offsets are real and delivered at a portfolio of sites where they are measurable, verifiable and properly monitored.
In so doing, individuals and companies contribute to global biodiversity conservation
All Carbon Balanced sites are of outstanding importance for biodiversity and have a high carbon density or the potential to absorb atmospheric carbon dioxide through habitat restoration. Individuals and companies that offset their unavoidable emissions by Carbon Balancing therefore also save and restore critically threatened habitats and species. Of course, the storage and absorbtive capacity of terrestrial habitats is finite, and offsetting must only be considered within the context of a comprehensive emissions reduction strategy.