Why Carbon Avoidance Credit Offsets Are Ineffective
Climate Action

Carbon avoidance offsets refer to the practice of trying to prevent carbon dioxide emissions from being released into the atmosphere by supporting projects that avoid the use of fossil fuels. These projects then sell credits to others to compensate for their emissions. While these projects may seem like an effective way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, they are not always a reliable or sustainable solution for addressing climate change. Here are a few reasons why:

Additionality: To be effective, carbon avoidance projects must demonstrate "additionality," meaning that they are projects that would not have occurred without the financial support of the offset program. However, it can be difficult to determine whether a project is truly additional, as many projects that claim to be carbon avoidance may have been planned anyway or might have occurred even without offset funding.

Leakage: Carbon avoidance projects can also suffer from "leakage," which occurs when the emissions reduction in one area leads to increased emissions elsewhere. For example, if a carbon avoidance project in one country leads to a decrease in demand for coal, that coal may be sold at a lower price to another country where emissions may actually increase.

Permanence: Carbon avoidance projects can also be difficult to ensure long-term emissions reductions. For example, a renewable energy project that avoids carbon emissions may only last a few years before it needs to be replaced or updated, leading to potential future emissions.

Accountability: Carbon avoidance offset programs are not always transparent, and it can be challenging to ensure that the offsets purchased are actually leading to real emissions reductions. This can lead to concerns about "double counting," where the same offset is sold multiple times, or "greenwashing," where a company claims to be carbon neutral without actually making significant emissions reductions.

Overall, while carbon avoidance projects can be an part of addressing climate change, they should not be relied upon as a large proportion of the solution to the problem. Instead, efforts to reduce emissions at the source, through renewable energy, energy efficiency, and other measures, are likely to be more effective in the long term.

Combined with these reductions, the UN's International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), highlights that we'll need 10 billion tonnes per year of Carbon Dioxide Removal (CDR) by 2050.

CDR differs from carbon avoidance as it directly removes planet-heating emissions from the atmosphere and locks them away for hundreds, thousands or more years so they cannot contribute to climate change.

When combined with global and widespread emissions reductions by decarbonizing everything humans do, CDR will be a crucial tool in slowing and then reversing human-caused climate change and it's impacts.

Zopeful builds ready-made, high-quality portfolios of carbon removal to make researching, purchasing and managing durable carbon removal more accessible for consumers and companies.

We’re aiming for higher permanence and additionality than traditional carbon credits, with 70% of our Carbon Removal Portfolio-1 aiming to be durable storage of 500 years or more (this means the carbon is locked away and can't contribute to the continued heating of the planet).

We're not casting shade on other climate efforts - including avoidance credits - as some have other value or purpose that can't necessarily be measured in tonnes of carbon.

Our goal is to provide an additional option to widen access at an accessible $/tonne to different types of more permanent solutions, as this is what the latest science shows us is crucial to scale alongside global decarbonization efforts.

Have hope, make progress 💚

Team Zopeful

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