What is a carbon offset?
A "carbon offset" is a salable unit representing a reduction equivalent to 1 metric tonne (2204 lbs.) of carbon dioxide. These units are interchangeably called certificates, credits, offsets and units. Offsets are created to allow individuals and companies to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions.
How do the carbon markets work?
The logic behind the "carbon markets" is that participants can buy offsets to reduce or eliminate their carbon footprint. Many progressive companies today purchase offsets voluntarily to reduce the carbon footprint of their operations. For instance, a shipping company that uses trucks and planes to deliver your packages, or an internet company that runs large data centers to store and deliver your information may use offsets as a tool to help neutralize their impact on the environment when they cannot achieve any greater efficiency in their operations through other means. Likewise, some governments put a cap on the amount of CO2 companies can emit. If companies exceed that limit, they must purchase an amount of offsets that match their overage. These purchases support emission reduction projects like ours which deliver a like amount of reductions in exchange for payment for those services.
Given that greenhouse gases become evenly distributed across the global atmosphere, regardless of the origin of the emissions, it does not matter where a reduction is made as long as it is certified by a UN-sanctioned auditing body. Thus, as an individual you can neutralize your own carbon footprint by purchasing offsets from all over the globe, and in doing so support some amazing projects that are truly changing lives.
What is my carbon footprint?
Your "carbon footprint" is an estimate of the total greenhouse gas emissions associated with the production, transportation, usage and disposal of all products and services you consume during a given time period (usually a year). As it would be far too difficult and expensive to physically measure the emissions around a single person, national averages and activity-specific emission factors are commonly used to help people calculate their footprint for offsetting purposes. So your footprint is an estimate of your environmental impact on climate change measured in metric tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalents (MtCO2e).
Why should I purchase offsets?
We all play a role in climate change through our daily activities and consumption, and we need to act now in order to avoid worst case scenarios. Despite the slow progress of international climate treaties, we believe most people want to be part of the solution to climate change rather than being part of the problem. By purchasing Paradigm carbon offsets, you join a growing movement of people who are not content with waiting for politicians to sort things out. By offsetting your own greenhouse gas emissions you become part of the solution to climate change.
Isn't buying offsets just paying companies to pollute?
Some people feel that we should just all focus on reducing our own emissions rather than paying for others to make reductions. That's a nice thought, but somewhat unrealistic. Here's why:
In an ideal world, all of our consumption and use would be carbon neutral. However, it is very difficult for individuals and companies to reduce all of their greenhouse gas emissions given the embedded footprint associated with the consumption of electricity, water, transportation, products and food. It's not realistic to reduce emissions to zero unless you check out of society altogether. Purchasing Paradigm offsets allows you to help build a better future without going Grizzly Adams on us. Given that greenhouse gases are distributed evenly in the atmosphere around the globe, offsets allow individuals and companies to go carbon neutral once they've done everything else they can to reduce their own carbon footprint.
One cool thing about offsets is that a tonne of greenhouse gases is exactly the same no matter where the reduction takes place. So you can reduce your carbon footprint by purchasing offsets that come from Africa or Latin America knowing that you did your part for the planet and the people who need it most.
What happens once I purchase the offsets from Paradigm?
Believe it or not, we retire them.
When carbon offsets are verified, the units are entered into official registry accounts. Once in the registry, the units can be sold just like shares on a stock market and, just as with the stock market, the registry keeps track of the ownership of each unit.
Once the offsets are purchased by someone who intends to use them to reduce their carbon footprint (vs. purchasing them to re-sell them), the units are officially "retired" in the registry. This means they are permanently withdrawn and cannot any longer be sold or traded. This policy is in place to prevent fraudulent practices where the same offset unit is sold to multiple customers.
When you purchase offsets from Paradigm, we retire that specific number of offsets to account for your use and to assure that they cannot be re-sold or traded by, or to, anyone else.
How can I be sure that the offsets I buy are real?
All Paradigm offsets are held in official registry accounts and periodically retire offset credits to reconcile with the sale of offsets to our customers. To ensure transparency we include carbon inventory in our annual third party financial audits to confirm that our retirement of offsets matches the sale of offsets to our customers. That information is made available to offset buyers whenever requested.
What kind of certificate will I receive for purchasing offsets?
When you purchase offsets from Paradigm, your purchases are logged in our database and a PDF certificate memorializing the number of offsets purchased is emailed to you.