Human beings need to more than halve our emissions by 2030, if we stand any chance of meeting the Paris target of limiting climate warming to 1.5 degrees. This is a huge challenge and one that will require combined efforts by governments, all businesses, public policies, and all of us as individuals – we all have a part to play.
In this article, Vaughan Lindsay, the CEO of ClimateCare, tackles some of the myths surrounding climate change and carbon offsetting, so that you personally can make an informed decision and do your bit.
1. “Global warming isn’t real”
Despite the need to put on warm coats and the big freezes we experience in the winter months, global warming is absolutely causing the Earth’s average surface temperature to increase, and dangerously so. These changes are making extreme weather events both more likely and more severe, causing disruption and devastation for our infrastructure and wildlife.
2. “Climate change is something to worry about in the future, not now”
The science is clear, we need to act now to avoid climate breakdown. Wildlife aside, we’re already seeing the devastating effects of climate change on our global food supplies, conflict, disease and global instability, and this will only get worse if we don’t act now.
Climate change is the biggest crisis of our time. As Mark Carney summed up recently, the world is heading for mortality rates equivalent to the Covid crisis every year by mid-century unless action is taken right now. “One of the biggest issues is you cannot self-isolate from climate,” he said. “That is not an option. We cannot retreat in and wait out climate change, it will just get worse.” In short, climate change threatens the future of the planet that we depend on for our survival and we are the last generation that can do anything about it.
3. “We just need to reduce our carbon footprint, not cut emissions”
Well, in fact, we need to do both. We all have a carbon footprint, regardless of how hard we try to reduce it. Even with the most determined efforts to cut emissions at source, we are all still responsible for some carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases going into the atmosphere. All of which is causing global climate change.
We could choose to ignore this. Taking no action to tackle the consequences of those unavoidable emissions, which might dwarf everything we’ve been able to cut. Or we can take responsibility for them, by ensuring that an equivalent amount of carbon is either absorbed, or avoided elsewhere, through carbon offsetting. Offsetting the carbon emissions that we cannot reduce is currently the only effective way to take responsibility for them
4. “Offsetting isn’t going to tackle climate change”
It is true that, offsetting alone will not tackle climate change. However, as experts around the world agree, it is an essential part of our journey to Net Zero.
We need to move to a low-carbon world as quickly as possible. But even in the best-case scenario, this transition will take time. As such, while we work on reducing our emissions (often involving long term systemic changes to decarbonise existing business models), we need to do something about the carbon emissions we are all producing today. Funding an equivalent amount of carbon emissions reductions through voluntary carbon offsetting (such as when you take a flight or when you host an event) is an effective way to take responsibility for your carbon footprint. Don’t forget the key is to offset through a reputable, high quality, ICROA accredited provider to ensure that the carbon reduction projects you support are real, verified, additional and permanent.
5. “Carbon offsetting is just a guilt free way to carry on emitting”
The most desirable outcome for the climate would be that we don’t emit at all. Yet we all know this simply isn’t possible right now.
Take for instance, flying. Ideally people would avoid flying altogether. However, if people have no choice but to fly somewhere, ideally those emissions would be measured and offset. Preferably they would be offset by the airline on the consumer’s behalf, but if not, then on a voluntary basis by the consumer themselves. Ultimately it is better to fly and take responsibility for those emissions by paying for a commensurate emission reduction elsewhere. If you fly and don’t take responsibility for those emissions, this is by far the worst thing you can do.
By making a choice to offset their emissions, people are making a great step to change their behaviour longer term and indeed educate others too. It is only by everyone playing their part that we can tackle the climate crisis.
6. “I’m not travelling right now so my footprint is low”
It’s not just air travel or commuting you need to think about when it comes to your carbon footprint. In fact, digital footprint is a growing problem, especially in light of the pandemic. In our rush to stream, send emails, run video calls, store data and update our social media posts, we’ve lost sight of how energy-hungry the digital industry really is.
The internet and digital technology involve far more than just the energy required to run our devices. Rather, the storing of data, otherwise known to us all as ‘the cloud’, is one of the worst offenders of all. Far from being invisible, the cloud and the technical components to run it, generate extremely high emissions.
The carbon footprint of our gadgets, the internet and the systems supporting them accounts for 3.7% of global greenhouse emissions, similar to that of the airline industry. And these emissions are predicted to double by 2025 too.
7. “I won’t make a difference, so why bother?”
Anyone and everyone can make a different in tackling the climate crisis. Climate change is the single biggest issue that the world faces today, and we all have to play our part in solving it.
Solving the climate crisis is not just the responsibility of big businesses or government. We can all make steps to take responsibility for the climate, eliminating as many emissions as possible and for those that we can’t eliminate offsetting them.
In busting these myths, we hope to empower everyone, no matter where you live or what you do, to take responsibility for your climate impacts. We ask you to step up to, pledge your support, and take action today. Ultimately, it is today’s emissions that are causing tomorrow’s climate change and we all need to take full responsibility for them right now.
ClimateCare is dedicated to tackling climate change and improving lives. It aims to make our world a climate neutral one – where everyone takes full responsibility for their carbon footprint.
ClimateCare helps organisations and people take responsibility for their climate impact by financing, developing and managing carbon reduction projects across the world.