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We have all heard the term ‘net zero’ from various different companies throughout the world. In fact, we could bet on the fact that there is probably a section in every single marketing strategy dedicated to ‘showing our commitment to the planet’. Now, in theory that sounds great – all of these companies committing to making a difference for our future?

But what does the term ‘offsetting’ actually mean?

Collins dictionary defines it as : if one thing is offset by another, the effect of the first thing is reduced by the second, so that any advantage or disadvantage is cancelled out.

However, study after study has indicated that most offsets available on the market don’t reliably reduce emissions. There is physically not enough space on the planet to plant the trees that could offset the emissions that we are producing. Buying an offset is the easy option for everyone – the consumer feels there is an easy way to alleviate their contribution to emissions by paying a small amount towards offsetting air miles for example and companies feel that is is an easy way to promote their ‘net zero’ commitment by writing a cheque but still emitting the same amount of emissions into our atmosphere. These companies are buying emission reductions when they can’t reduce emissions and claiming ‘carbon neutrality. 

The fact of the matter is, there are not enough checks to disprove these false claims being made. Everyone wants to believe in this, we feel good knowing that the biggest companies in the world are doing their bit in helping our planet. But claiming that these offsets cancel out carbon emissions is not true, truly offsetting is only possible when replacing energy sources with renewable alternatives like wind or solar power.

“We cannot offset our way out of climate change”

John Oliver.

If you have 20 minutes of your day free and you want to learn about this in detail while having a laugh at the same time, John Oliver does a great job here.