own emissions will eventually be more attractive. Maybe not immediately but definitely sooner if we all participate.
The most desirable way of reducing emissions will in most cases be just that – to reduce emissions. This should always be the first step: Reduce as much as you can. But if you concede that the best is sometimes not a choice at all, for financial or other good reasons, then: Offset the remainder.
What are the offsetting options?
The concept of paying for emissions cuts instead of making a reduction yourself is originally linked to emissions trading. Project-based emissions reductions generated under the official mechanism of the Kyoto protocol are regulated by a strict formal and legal framework and primarily intended to help countries to meet their emission targets. However, these emission reductions can be bought and used by anyone to reduce their climate footprint. Emission reductions which comply with those criteria constitute the compliance market. Although the compliance market makes up the biggest chunk of emission reduction via offsets today, there is also the so-called voluntary market where you can buy offsets that are not eligible under the Kyoto protocol but not necessarily less efficient.
Internal activities which take place within an entity some claim as offsets. For example company x or city y accounts a certain amount of trees they have planted for emissions reduction on their climate balance. As with many activities which have no firewall through external control, it is difficult to check if these activities are as effective as assumed.
Therefore, we will focus on official offsets – allowed under the Kyoto Protocol – and voluntary offsets. Both types can be easily purchased be individuals, organizations and countries.
Legally binding systems seek to persuade actors to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions based on a simple idea: making people pay for polluting will increase the cost of emissions and that will in turn reduce the amount of emissions generated. On this note the Kyoto Protocol provides mechanisms that allow parties to reduce emissions outside their