The science is stark: climate change is happening at a pace much faster than projected. Global temperatures, ice melt and sea-level rise are accelerating beyond modelled predictions. Tipping points once thought to be a century away may occur within our lifetimes. With a rise of just 2-degrees above pre-industrial levels, extreme weather events will proliferate; 1-billion people risk water shortages and 10 million risk costal flooding. By mid-century one quarter of Earth’s species could be headed for extinction. Combating climate change is therefore humanity’s biggest challenge. If we don’t act now, climate change will dramatically alter our world and that of our children and grandchildren forever.
To prevent warming of more than 2°C—considered the danger threshold by scientists—atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases (GHG) cannot exceed 450 parts per million. This will require cutting annual emissions by at least 30 billion tons by 2030, or roughly what the world emits today. The task is as ambitious as it is essential.
The first step for any business or individual must be to cut emissions at source. However, once all cost-effective reduction opportunities have been exhausted, buying carbon credits provides a way to offset emissions that cannot be cut at source, by financing low carbon development around the world.
Thanks to these carbon credit investments, developing countries benefit from access to carbon finance and the transfer of clean energy technologies, ensuring they develop in a sustainable and low carbon way.
Government regulation must be the main approach, but voluntary actions, including using credible offsets, have an important and complementary role to play in reducing the release of harmful GHG into the atmosphere.
To enable the purchase of carbon credits, different compliance markets have been established around the world. The best known is the EU Emissions Trading Scheme. New Zealand has one and various states in the US are in the process of establishing them. There is also a global voluntary market in carbon credits in which corporations or individuals can choose to purchase credits to offset their carbon footprints even though they are not regulated to do so.back to top