The Truth about Carbon Offsets

Done right, carbon offsets are an effective way for individuals and businesses to lessen their climate impact and help stop climate change.

But can you separate the facts about carbon offsets from fiction?

Learn about CI’s efforts to help offset carbon pollution and how you can help through our informative FAQ below.

What exactly is a carbon offset?

Carbon offsets are credits generated by projects that either prevent carbon emissions from going into the atmosphere or remove carbon from the atmosphere.

Carbon dioxide has the same global warming potential no matter where it is emitted, so reducing carbon emissions anywhere in the world creates the same benefit for the planet.

How does CI offset carbon?

CI believes that restoring and protecting the world’s tropical forests offer an important means to tackle one of the largest sources of greenhouse gas emissions – in fact, tropical deforestation accounts for more emissions than all of the world’s cars, trucks and airplanes combined.

By building a robust portfolio of forest carbon activities in some of the most biologically rich and economically poor nations of the world, our goal is to simultaneously conserve natural resources such as biodiversity and fresh water, create sustainable livelihoods and produce high-quality carbon offsets.

CI is developing high-quality forest carbon offsets that span the globe from Africa to Asia to Latin America and include a broad range of forest-based mitigation activities. All are designed to meet the best-practice standards for carbon – the Voluntary Carbon Standard or UNFCCC Clean Development Mechanism – as well as the leading standard for assessing co-benefits – the Climate, Community & Biodiversity (CCB) Standards. As a result, we can ensure that the projects create real, measurable and verifiable emissions reductions along with concrete benefits for local communities and for biodiversity conservation.

We expect that these innovative projects will be a model for broader efforts to significantly curb climate change and protect the biological diversity on which life depends, while simultaneously improving the economic well-being of forest-dependent communities.

All projects include the following key criteria:

1. Climate benefits are “additional” — that the carbon sequestered or the emissions reduced would not have occurred without the carbon project;

2. There is no net “leakage” of benefits — that the project does not lead to unintended behavior change outside the project boundary that could negate some of the climate benefits, or that such impacts are accounted for;

3. Best practices are used to measure and monitor the carbon stocks and quantify the carbon benefits generated;

4. The benefits from forest-based projects are permanent — that the risk of potential loss of carbon (whether from natural or human causes) is mitigated; and

5. The project provides multiple benefits — that the project’s effect on biodiversity and the local community, as well as on global climate, is positive.

What are the important criteria that legitimize these projects as valid offsetting activities?

CI guarantees the quality and validity of our forest carbon projects and ensures that co-benefits are generated by working in accordance with the CCB Standards. These are voluntary standards to help project developers design projects that simultaneously minimize the risk of climate change, conserve biodiversity and provide economic and social benefits to local communities.

CI is also committed to verifying the project carbon benefits through the use of the most rigorous carbon accounting frameworks, whether the Voluntary Carbon Standard or UNFCC Clean Development Mechanism.

How do you calculate someone’s carbon footprint?

CI’s carbon calculator is simple, fast and easy to use, but it will deliver your total estimated personal greenhouse gas emissions about as accurately and credibly as many hours of data-gathering and fact-finding.

As with any online carbon calculator, ours includes some margin of error due to the difficulty and imprecision inherent in measuring the CO2 output of your morning commute or your dietary decisions, for example. Therefore, we combine the best available data and a range of informed assumptions to form the basis of our calculations and to provide you an emissions estimate you can rely on – and begin to neutralize.

Our focus is on those everyday variables you can influence the most – namely, your residential energy, personal travel and dietary emissions.

Is stopping climate change too big of a challenge?

Stopping climate change is a huge challenge. But if we all do our small part to decrease our personal impact on the planet, we can make a measurable difference.

Where can CI supporters go to offset their carbon?

You can start by calculating your carbon footprint right now.

Or you can simply choose to offset one of these carbon packages:

Offset the average person for $288 (or $24 per month) – Offset this.

Offset the average driver for $60 – Offset this.

Offset the average home for $60 – Offset this.

Offset a typical domestic flight for $17 – Offset this.

Offset a typical international flight for $74 – Offset this.

We hope you found this FAQ informative and helpful. If you have more questions, please visit our website.


  1. Ron Joseph says

    This is [edited for language] nonsense. Replanting and not tearing forests down in the first place is the ecological right thing to do. I live in BC Canada and see first hand the atrocious logging practices of the forest companies here. No amount of re-planting in an area that is logged can ever generate any kind of ‘credit’. All it can do is partly restore the bio-mass that was destroyed. It takes a century or more for the logged area to recover enough to restore the original carbon biomass. I guess if you look at it from the point of view that some of the wood that was logged is now in a building and ‘stores’ some carbon you might be inclined to think, ‘well hey, some carbon is sequestered’. The fallacy in that argument is the amount of carbon released by logging machines, sawmills, shipping the lumber, the hardware store, the building construction etc just totally offsets any carbon sequestering.
    Replanting and maintaining forests is a good thing to do. Brainwashing people into thinking ‘buying’ credits alters one thing about the way we live on this planet is just sooooo incredibly asinine that Joseph Goebbels would be proud of the ingenuity shown by the originators of this policy. After all, if you make the lie big enough, and make money from it it is more or less the same as what he did.

  2. Bruce Griffiths says

    I fail to see how a carbon offset works. The way I see it, I give you money, you don’t cut down a tree. But the reality is, you cut the tree and sell the lumber. The theory is good, but how do I know reality, as I see it, doesn’t happen. And if you didn’t cut the tree down, and left it, why do I have to pay to offset my carbon? This sounds like a money maker to me, and I’m not making the money.

  3. Pingback: 8 Tips for Green Travel: Green Your Summer Vacation | TeamWORK

  4. Pingback: 8 Tips For Green Hotels (and Other Lodging Options): Green Your Summer Vacation | TeamWORK

  5. Phil Halse says

    When will we see the truth about this , 10 years from now ? The admissions that this is simply another RORT so the true culprits and the moneymakers in all of the environmental vandalism dont have to repair the damage they have done out of their ill gotten , illegal and immoral financial gains . Time to have a social revolution and put these greedy pigs on notice to fix it and stop what you are doing now or face some very serious personal retaliation and consequences . Stop them now or there will be no planet and no decent world for the next generations .

  6. Duck says

    I’m sorry, but this seems more like a scam than anything else. I used the carbon footprint calculator, and it seems to me that it’s just a ‘bit’ off. For example, a vegan diet removed three points from my honest omnivorous diet. If I’m vegan, I eat plants, which remove carbon from the atmosphere. If I’m omnivorous, I don’t eat as many plants, allowing them to remove more carbon, and eat delicious meat products from animals which add carbon to the atmosphere.

    Before trying to guilt me out money, get your facts together.

  7. Martin says

    Duck, you must be kidding….. I hope you are but my fear is that you are serious and, like too many other Americans, get your “knowledge” from Fox News.
    How do you emagine your delicious meat grew to be just that? Well, since you cannot figure that out, let me tell you. By eating A LOT of plants. Much much more than you would need over the same period of time to eat a full green diet.
    It’s a simple calculation that no sciencetists would disagree about: produce is a MUCH MORE (many times more) efficient nutrition when considering the total load on the environment.
    The added bonus to that is the health perspective. But looking at the generel statistics on growth in development of obesity, diabetes, colon cancer etc. in the United States, it is clear to me that the health issue is of absolutely no value to the Americans, likewise with environmental issues.
    By the way, I’m from “communist” (according to Glenn Beck/Fox News) Denmark but I have lived a couple of years in the USA, so I have a pretty good understanding of the sad state worlds global leader is in….

  8. carbon offsets says

    Carbon offset are an effective way for businesses an individuals.the carbon offset actually change the climate and projects it is remove the carbon in environment and useful for protection of environment.

Leave a Reply to carbon offsets Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *