I’ve seen companies announce that they are “300% eco powered”, something that is quite impossible. As I read their explanation, I almost fell out of the chair in shock. They use so-called “carbon credits” to “offset the carbon emissions”.
Now, there’s several things wrong here and I’ll try to explain them. First, let’s take a look at what “carbon credits” are:
They come under many names, Footprint Credits, Offset Credits, Carbon Emission Credits, Windpower Credits etc., but they are basically the same thing. By buying a carbon credit, you’re supposedly offsetting your own “dirty power” with cleaner options. It may be a company that buys the extra carbon emission allotments from under other companies’ noses, thereby robbing them the chance to pollute. It may be a tree planted for every credit bought, a wind mill built for every X credits etc. etc.. What it is about is putting a band aid on the wound you’re creating with your pollution.
So, the problem?
The main problem is that it does nothing. If you’re taking a carbon emission allotment from a company and use it yourself, you haven’t reduced the amount of carbon emitted, you’ve just made sure it’s never used. Instead of a company producing goods, medicine or something useful, you’ve been driving your car for a month.
When it comes to “repairing” credits, like Windpower Credits or Tree Credits, you’ve still not reduced the emissions already made. A tree is nice and all, but if you continue to spew out carbon monoxide into the air, the tree won’t mean a thing. If you continue to use the “dirty” power, it won’t matter that you’ve helped build a windmill.
It’s like murdering 5 people and then make 5 women pregnant. You still have the same number of people, but for 20 years you’ve lost the 5 workers, you’ve added a cost on the society and it will take more time to get the use back than it’s taken to take it away… and there’s no guarantee that all 5 will be able to work.
All you’re really doing is making someone else rich for doing nothing at all!