Offsetting your own carbon footprint
written 4 years ago
3 minute read

Are you feeling as helpless watching our ongoing environmental crisis as the next person? Are you used to taking a car, or flying, and considering your impact on the environment completely paralyzes you?

My wife and I are currently trapped in a situation between Amman and Germany where she has a job in Amman but we have to show up in Germany twice a year to not violate restrictive German residency laws.
That means an awful lot of flying for the coming two years.
(Being well aware that that’s nothing in comparison to many people’s traveling habits, especially business people. But I’m trying to mind my own business here)

Then, for the summers in Germany, we take the car around the country or even the continent.

But there is in fact something you can do: Compensate your personal carbon emissions by paying certain organizations to fund environment protection projects such as planting trees that turn the carbon back into oxygen or funding renewable energy projects.

Offsetting your carbon is surprisingly cheap. A round-trip flight from Amman to Berlin sets us back 25€ per person for compensations through the Swiss foundation Myclimate.
Driving my van for 1000km will set me back 12€ which roughly translates to a 12% increase for traveling costs with today's fuel prices in Germany.

The prices are cheap today because currently most of these projects take place in the so called developing world where more impact can be achieved with the same amount of money. I’m fine with that because it’s a global calculation and it is the rural undeveloped countryside where people and environment will most benefit from solar energy instead of having to cut trees for cooking, for instance, and reforestation.
Once these “low hanging fruits” (as The Guardian put it) are picked, prices will rise when projects in the developing world have reached a saturation point and projects move to the so called developed world, which will be more expensive.
By that time and logic, the developing world will have reached an equal level with the developed world in terms of environment protection — a most welcome outlook.

Offsetting carbon footprints is controversial. But most of the criticism I can’t follow. It’s not any like the indulgences that the Catholic church used to sell to make rich people whitewash their sins. Those were bullshit, this one is real.
Also, I don’t see how the whitewashing (which carbon offsetting is indeed) hinders people in changing their habits. Whoever already pays attention to carbon offsetting will also be more aware of their habits. I for one can’t wait to drive an all-electric car. Because let's be honest: We can't just give up on everything. But I can't afford an electric car any time soon. I do consider where to go and which transportation means I choose. But it’s not good enough. Therefore, carbon-offsetting is the thing to do!

There's a number of foundations to help you. I found Myclimate through an own internet research. It’s a Swiss foundation based in Zurich that has been founded by former students of the famous ETH Zurich university — a most trustworthy source.
The Wikipedia page about Myclimate states an independent research by the University Graz that evaluated Myclimate as second-best. The PDF paper was paid, so I didn’t get to read who came first. But I have a feeling it was German charity Atmosfair. I simply didn’t go with them because their web site didn’t offer a calculator for car rides.

Here’s one Guardian article.

Please spread the word, thank you.

Published on Monday, July 17th 2017

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