CO2 compensation, how does it work?

How does CO2 compensation work?

We all know about pollution, CO2 emissions, the greenhouse effect, global warming and climate change. These issues are all interrelated, and start with … us. We all contribute to climate change with the choices we make. We can all contribute to limiting our role in global warming and climate change. For example by living more sustainably. Or by CO2 compensation. What is CO2 compensation and how does it work?

Many things we do directly or indirectly cause the release of CO2 gasses. Small changes you make in your own life, do make a difference. Like:

  1. Making your home more energy-efficient.
  2. Eat more consciously, by eating less meat, locally and seasonal.
  3. Use sustainable modes of transportation.

By decreasing your CO2 footprint, you limit your role in global warming and climate change. However, we cannot completely avoid CO2 emissions, and it is difficult to take responsibility for someone else’s actions. But, you can compensate CO2 emissions. For example by planting trees elsewhere or by supporting projects for the production of green energy.Where to compensate CO2 emissions?

First prevent, then compensate CO2 emissions

To reduce your personal CO2 footprint, it is important to first try to avoid or prevent unnecessary CO2 emissions. Secondly, you can focus on compensating CO2 emissions you cannot really prevent. The CO2 emissions you cannot avoid or prevent, you can compensate.

Tips to avoid CO2 emissions

  1. Measure you own CO2 footprint, for example through this CO2 footprint calculator, to figure out in which areas you can compensate CO2 emissions.
  2. Avoid the airplane. Try to choose a vacation destination closer to home, that is accessible by bus, train of (electric and/or shared) car. Just a simple comparison: with a sustainable life for one entire year you save the same amount of CO2 that you emit with only one flight to your holiday destination. Or in other words: flying evaporates all your efforts to reduce CO2 emissions and prevent global warming, because flying is just incredible polluting. And besides: there are many great travel destinations closer to home.
  3. Make you home more energy efficient. You can directly influence the CO2 emissions of your own energy consumption. Reduce your own energy consumption. How? Read these tips on a sustainable lifestyle.
  4. Use green energy. Another direct choice you can make to reduce your CO2 footprint, is by choosing a green energy supplier in your home. Or by installing solar panels on your house.
  5. Eat less meat. Many greenhouse gases are produced in the production process of meat. By eating less meat, you directly limit your CO2 footprint substantially.

Ways of CO2 compensationTree planting projects

That being said, the next step is to compensate the CO2 you’ve caused. There are different ways for CO2 compensation. The three most important ones, are these:

  1. Planting trees. Trees extract CO2 from the atmosphere and release oxygen. They absorbed CO2 and release oxygen. Sounds great, doesn’t it? Additionally, trees store CO2 as they grow bigger. As they’ve fully grown, they don’t store extra CO2 anymore, but trees do keep the stored CO2. They do continue releasing oxygen in the atmosphere. When the wood of these trees is burned, the stored CO2 is being released again. In a CO2 compensation effort, it is therefor important to replace fully grown trees again to continue to store CO2.
  2. Reduce activities that cause CO2 emissions, and replace them with environmental more friendly alternatives. For example: replace grey energy (coal burning power stations) with green energy (windmills).
  3. Invest in green energy projects. The development of the green energy sector will reduce greenhouse gas emissions. So this is a great green investment opportunity.

CO2 compensation on a worldwide level

The scope of CO2 compensation is worldwide. CO2 gasses spread through our entire atmosphere. You can compensate by supporting for example tree planting projects in Costa Rica or investing in a solar panel project in Africa. By the choices you make and the products you buy, you can also directly influence the decrease of the destruction of forests in the Brazilian Amazon. For example, by not buying products with soya ingredients for soya plantations in Brazil. Or by buying wooden products made of fair trade wood.

How does CO2 compensation work?

Some things you simply cannot do yourself. For example, planting trees when living in an apartment, or building a windmill yourself. Therefor there are organizations that arrange this for you. They offer solutions for CO2 compensation or they offer projects you can invest in. Most of them are actually intermediaries themselves. They invest your money in companies that plant trees or build wind parks.

How to compensate CO2 emissions of traveling?Compensate CO2 of flying

There are different ways to give you money to these intermediaries, to compensate your CO2 emissions or invest your money sustainably.

For example, the CO2 you cause when flying can be compensated by compensation programs offered by airlines. In the booking process, these airlines offer to possibility to check the box to compensate your flight. The extra money this costs you (usually a few euros), is donated to an organization that provides climate compensation solutions.

FlyGRN is a booking website that holds a CO2 compensation fee for your booking. Actually, they reduce the CO2 compensation from their own fee to stimulate you to compensate your flight.

Some airlines also have a compensation program. For an extra fee you can compensate your flight by checking the CO2 compensation box. For example the CO2ZERO program of KLM.

A better alternative way to travel is to avoid a overload of CO2 emissions by choosing an alternative way to travel. For example, by taking the train, bus or (sharing a) car.

How to compensate CO2 emissions of energy consumption?

Again, better first avoid CO2 emission by energy consumption and secondly compensate these CO2 emissions. In your energy consumption, you can choose to use green energy, like energy from solar panels or windmills. However, gas consumption for your central heating, warm water or gas stove cannot be compensated. It is therefor better to replace the installations that need gas, by an installation that runs on energy. When this is not (yet) possible, several energy suppliers offer possibilities to compensate your gas consumption. For example by investing in green energy projects in other countries or by planting trees.

Where to compensate CO2 emissions?

That being said, where can you compensate your CO2 emissions? You can invest in or donate money to the following organizations to compensate CO2 emissions, among many other organizations that are active in this field:

You can easily arrange this yourself through internet. Try to be fair, and compensate what you cause or have caused. Be reasonable, and responsible.

Together we can make a difference!