|Once you start working your plan to get to net zero you realize that there is a gap between what you can achieve using current technology and zero. That leads you to start thinking about ‘Carbon Offsetting‘.|
the process of trying to reduce the damage caused by releasing carbon dioxide into the environment by doing other things that remove carbon dioxide, for example, by planting trees:
The practice of carbon offsetting – paying a third party to remove or otherwise offset an amount of carbon equivalent to the volume emitted – is now falling under close scrutiny.
Source: Cambridge Dictionary
There is a wide range of opinion on whether Carbon Offsetting ‘works’ for example this article from Greenpeace.
Here is a link to the UK Government Environment Agency review of Carbon Offsetting methods. This is a 172 page scientific review of the viability of 17 different potential carbon offsetting approaches of which only 2 are currently ‘accredited’ standards in the UK (Woodland Carbon Code and Peatland Code).
All the approaches reviewed have strengths and weaknesses with regard to their potential to be used for offsetting residual carbon emissions. No silver bullet offset solution was found.
The report is interesting reading and does lay out a framework for thinking about ‘Carbon Offsetting’. Each offsetting approach was assessed to determine the following factors:
- Readiness for implementation
- Speed and scale of potential impacts
- Permanence, leakage and additionality (reductions or removals of GHGs that would not have happened otherwise)
- Confidence in the science
- Measuring impact
- Risks and barriers
The report does not cover the ‘world’s biggest carbon removal plant’ in Iceland that cost $10-15M to build and started operation in September 2021. According to the Economist it removed and stored 1,200 tonnes of CO2 in 2021 and is planned to remove 4,000 tonnes per annum.
For reference this is enough to offset 150 of our 240 homes.
There is no ‘silver bullet’ and there is no ‘regulation’. There is much work to do in this area before we can recommend an approach.
What is the ‘price or cost’ of a tonne of CO2?
Once you start thinking about ‘Carbon offsetting’ you then start looking at what is the price or cost to ‘offset’ your CO2 emissions.
Assuming the IMPACT tool average annual Beech household emissions of 27.2 tonnes that would equate to an annual cost range of £1360 to 2,176 or £113 – 181 per month per household.