Reduce greenhouse gas emissions at their source and purchase high-quality carbon offsets that further reduce atmospheric emissions.
Offsets are carbon credits that individuals and companies purchase to “neutralize” their greenhouse gas emissions. A credit represents one metric ton of emissions. It can be bought or sold for an equivalent (1:1) reduction by an activity that removes greenhouse gases from the atmosphere, such as a growing forest, or avoids their production, such as creating a new source of renewable energy. Although offsets are designed to help reduce emissions, they have been ineffective. Less than 5 percent of offsets that have been sold removed carbon dioxide from the air. Offsets are often used by companies to appear proactive while continuing to generate greenhouse gases. They are complex, difficult to verify, and can be used as a means to greenwash. They can have negative social and environmental impacts that fall unfairly on developing nations, the poor, and Indigenous peoples. They are useful for offsetting hard-to-abate emissions, but immediate greenhouse gas reductions are required to achieve the world’s climate goals.