What Are Carbon Sequestration Offsets and How Do They Work: The Big Picture

What Are Carbon Sequestration Offsets and How Do They Work: The Big Picture

By
Grace Smoot

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Carbon sequestration, the storage of carbon dioxide (CO2) in terrestrial/marine ecosystems or in underground geological reservoirs, is one of the main methods used to reduce global CO2 emissions. In the scope of carbon offsets, carbon sequestration could play a crucial role in reducing atmospheric CO2 levels. So, we had to ask: What are carbon sequestration offsets really, and could they help us mitigate climate change?

Carbon sequestration offsets are a specific type of carbon offset that stores captured or removed carbon in plants, soils, geologic formations, and the ocean via reforestation, afforestation, REDD+, blue carbon, direct carbon/air capture, carbon mineralization, or agricultural offset projects.

Keep reading to find out all about what carbon sequestration offsets are, how they work, what their project life-cycle is, how effective they are, their pros and cons, and how they can help mitigate climate change.

The Big Picture of Carbon Sequestration Offsets

Carbon offsets play an important role in mitigating the effects of global climate change by reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions beyond what we each can achieve through individual actions. Carbon sequestration offsets are a specific type of carbon offset that focuses on the long-term storage of captured or removed carbon in plants, soils, geologic formations, and the ocean.

How are carbon offsets definedReductions in GHG emissions that are used to compensate for emissions occurring elsewhere.
What are carbon sequestration offsetsCarbon sequestration offsets are a specific type of carbon offset that focuses on the long-term storage of captured or removed carbon in plants, soils, geologic formations, and the ocean.
How do carbon sequestration projects offset CO2 emissionsCarbon sequestration projects reduce CO2 emissions by supporting projects that reinforce our forest and marine carbon sinks, which are capable of absorbing massive amounts of our emissions.
When do carbon sequestration projects offset CO2 emissionsDCC/DAC, carbon mineralization, REDD+, and some blue carbon projects reduce carbon emissions immediately. Carbon emission reductions are delayed with reforestation and afforestation projects.
How effective and efficient are carbon sequestration offsetsEffectiveness: Depending on the type of sequestration, carbon sequestration offsets can permanently and quickly remove carbon from the atmosphere while reinforcing our carbon sinks. However, they also do not reduce your own carbon emissions, which can lead to greenwashing.
Efficiency: Depending on the type of sequestration, carbon sequestration offsets can be cost-effective, avoid carbon emissions after their project lifespan, and have low rates of carbon re-emission. However, they also may also lack permanence, and may not yet be scaled to compensate for our global emissions. 
What are the best carbon sequestration offsetsThe best carbon sequestration offsets are offered by Climeworks, The Arbor Day Foundation, REDD.plus, and SeaTrees which involve reforestation, afforestation, REDD+, blue carbon, carbon mineralization, and direct carbon/air capture.

What Are Carbon Sequestration Offsets

Carbon offsets are sequestrations in GHG emissions that are used to compensate for emissions occurring elsewhere. They are measured in tons of CO2 equivalents and are bought and sold through international brokers, online retailers, and trading platforms.

Carbon sequestration offsets are a specific type of carbon offset that focuses on the long-term storage of captured or removed carbon in plants, soils, geologic formations, and the ocean. They include reforestation, afforestation, REDD+, blue carbon, direct carbon/air capture, carbon mineralization, and agricultural offsets. 

How Are Carbon Offsets Defined

Carbon offsets play a crucial role in reducing our carbon footprint, the amount of CO2 emissions associated with an individual or an entity. 

Carbon footprint: the amount of greenhouse gasses and specifically carbon dioxide emitted by something (such as a person’s activities or a product’s manufacture and transport) during a given period

Merriam Webster

Basically, a carbon footprint is the amount of carbon emitted by an activity or an organization. This includes GHG emissions from fuel that we burn directly (e.g., heating a home, driving a car) and GHG emissions from manufacturing the products that we use (e.g., power plants, factories, and landfills). 

One way to reduce our carbon footprint is via the use of carbon offsets. These are reductions in GHG emissions that are measured in tons of CO2 equivalents and are bought and sold through international brokers, online retailers, and trading platforms. 

Carbon offset: a way for a company or person to reduce the level of carbon dioxide for which they are responsible by paying money to a company that works to reduce the total amount produced in the world, for example by planting trees”

Oxford Dictionary

When you hear the words “carbon offset”, think about the term “compensation”. Essentially, carbon offsets are reductions in GHG emissions that are used to compensate for emissions occurring elsewhere. Carbon offsets can range anywhere from a couple of hundred tons of CO2 per program per year to thousands of tons of CO2 per program per year. 

How Are Carbon Sequestration Offsets Defined

Carbon sequestration is the long-term storage of captured or removed carbon in plants, soils, geologic formations, and the ocean.

Carbon Sequestration: the process of storing carbon dioxide that has been collected and removed from the atmosphere, in solid or liquid form”

Oxford Dictionary

Carbon sequestration is also commonly referred to as carbon capture and storage/sequestration because carbon capture is the first step in the sequestration process. 

Some of the most common carbon sequestration offset projects include:

How Do Carbon Sequestration Offsets Work

Carbon sequestration refers to the gathering of either removed or captured carbon and storage of that carbon in various natural reservoirs. Trees, marine ecosystems, and underground geological reservoirs are the most common storage places.

How and When Do Carbon Sequestration Offsets Reduce Your Carbon Footprint

Carbon sequestration refers to the elimination of carbon from our atmosphere via its storage in terrestrial, marine, or geological reservoirs. It is one way to mitigate the adverse effects of CO2 emissions that occur once they enter our atmosphere.

How Do Carbon Sequestration Offsets Reduce Your Carbon Footprint

Carbon sequestration projects reduce CO2 emissions by supporting projects that reinforce our forest and marine carbon sinks, which can absorb massive amounts of our emissions.

Carbon sequestration can occur via two main methods:

  • Artificial carbon sequestration: The result of carbon capture. The captured carbon is compressed into a liquid and transported via pipeline, ship, or tanker before being pumped deep underground, often at depths of 1 kilometer (0.6 miles), and sequestered in depleted oil reserves, coalbeds, or saline aquifers. 
  • Biological carbon sequestration: Carbon storage in vegetation (forests), soils, and oceans, which are commonly referred to as our carbon sinks

When Do Carbon Sequestration Offsets Reduce Your Carbon Footprint

The timing of carbon reduction varies depending on the type of carbon sequestration:

  • CO2 emissions reductions from DCC/DAC offsets occur as soon as the machines become operational. Once the carbon capture machines start sucking in atmospheric air, CO2 removal begins. 
  • REDD+ projects reduce carbon emissions immediately because you are protecting existing vegetation rather than creating new vegetation. 
  • For blue carbon, carbon emission reductions are delayed when you plant new mangrove trees because you have to wait for the trees to reach maturity; however, protecting existing seagrass beds and tidal marsh areas reduces CO2 immediately.
  • Reforestation and afforestation projects experience delays in carbon reduction because finding suitable land and physically planting the trees to create a new forest takes time. All trees mature at different rates, but a typical hardwood tree takes around 20 years to reach maturity.

What Could Prevent Carbon Sequestration Offsets From Being Realized

Carbon sequestration offsets can lack permanence, can be relatively expensive, may not be scaled to compensate for our global emissions, can negatively alter ecosystems, and can be difficult to standardize, verify, and monitor, depending on the specific type of offset. 

Nature-based solutions such as reforestation, afforestation, REDD+, blue carbon, and some agriculture offsets can lack permanence because carbon storage is reversible. For these categories of sequestration, the carbon is stored in biomass (e.g., trees, seagrasses, and marshes) rather than in permanent reservoirs (e.g., underground in rock formations). Once a tree is planted, it should never be removed in order to guarantee permanence. But trees die naturally, and environmental disasters such as floods, fires, changes in land use, and climate change can negate any permanence of these types of offsets. 

DCC/DAC offsets currency range anywhere from $250-$1200 per ton, the highest out of all carbon removal methods. Close behind are carbon mineralization offsets, which currently range anywhere from $82$1,200 per ton of CO2. In comparison, reforestation, afforestation, REDD+, and blue carbon offsets can cost less than $50 per ton

Currently, DCC/DAC, carbon mineralization, blue carbon, and agricultural offsets are not scaled enough to keep pace with our global carbon emissions. There are relatively few companies engaged in DCC/DAC and carbon mineralization practices and the technology is expensive to implement, whilst blue carbon offsets only receive 3% of total climate investments globally despite being capable of providing 1/3 of the total emissions reductions needed to keep global warming below 2 degrees Celsius. Also, in order to exact change on a global scale, we would have to incorporate agricultural offset practices such as biochar, agroforestry, and methane (CH4) capture on a massive scale and for hundreds of years into the future. 

Afforestation and carbon mineralization projects can negatively alter ecosystems if not planned properly. Afforestation can have a high land use change opportunity cost whilst carbon mineralization can come with risks including the contamination of surface and groundwater and the induction of seismic activity. Proper monitoring and siting procedures can help mitigate these risks.

What Is the Project Life-Cycle of Carbon Sequestration Offsets

To fully understand carbon sequestration offsets, we must assess each stage of its life cycle. This life-cycle assessment (LCA) is a method to evaluate the environmental impacts of products and materials. Over the years, companies have strategically used LCA to research and create more sustainable products. So, we had a look at the LCA for carbon sequestration offsets! 

Building of Carbon Sequestration Offsets

The building of carbon sequestration offsets varies depending on the type of carbon sequestration:

Operating and Maintaining of Carbon Sequestration Offsets

Each carbon sequestration type has various operation and maintenance needs:

End-of-Life of Carbon Sequestration Offsets

The end-of-life of carbon sequestration offsets also depends on the type of sequestration:

  • REDD+: Forests not protected – or not anymore protected – by REDD+ projects can be subject to deforestation activities. 
  • Agriculture: The end-of-life of agricultural carbon offset projects would include the end-of-life of pyrolysis technology, biomass power plants, or anything that puts agroforestry or grasslands at risk of being destroyed, which hopefully would never occur.

Carbfix + Climeworks: An Example Project of Carbon Sequestration Offsets

Since 2017, Carbfix has been working with Climeworks, a direct air capture company based in Zurich, Switzerland. After Climeworks’ specialized machines directly capture CO2 from the air, Carbfix then turns the captured CO2 into stone in less than two years. 

Carbfix first dissolves the captured CO2 in water to create a slurry, before injecting it underground where it reacts with basalts and other reactive rock formations to form solid minerals (carbonates) via natural processes. These carbonates remain stable for thousands of years, making the process permanent. To date, Carbfix has injected over 90,000 tons of CO2 at their Icelandic site.

Illustration from Climework about how direct air capture and storage (DAC+S) works
Climeworks: How direct air capture and storage (DAC+S) works

How Effective and Efficient Are Carbon Sequestration Offsets

In terms of effectiveness, carbon sequestration offsets can permanently remove carbon from the atmosphere, can remove emissions quickly, and can reinforce our carbon sinks, depending on the type of sequestration. However, they do not reduce your own carbon emissions, which can lead to greenwashing.

In terms of efficiency, carbon sequestration offsets can be cost-effective, can continue to avoid carbon emissions after their project lifespan, and have low rates of carbon re-emission, depending on the type of sequestration. However, they may also lack permanence, and may not yet be scaled to compensate for our global emissions. 

Carbon sequestration offsets are effective at mitigating climate change because:

However, carbon sequestration offsets can also lack effectiveness because they do not reduce your own carbon emissions, which can lead to greenwashing. This occurs when emissions are only offset and not reduced from the source, and the consumer is deceived into thinking they are offsetting their emissions but in reality, they are not.

Carbon sequestration offsets are efficient at reducing CO2 emissions because:

  • Reforestation, afforestation, REDD+, blue carbon, and agricultural offsets are some of the most cost-effective methods of carbon emission reduction, averaging less than $50 per ton of CO2 offset. 
  • Trees continue absorbing carbon long after they mature, which means reforestation, afforestation, and mangrove blue carbon projects can continue to reduce carbon emissions long after the trees have been planted.
  • DCC/DAC offsets can have low rates of carbon re-emission when plants are operated by low-carbon electricity. And carbon mineralization offsets store carbon permanently, even if rocks are broken.

However, carbon sequestration offsets can also lack efficiency because:

Related: Are you interested in learning more about how effective and efficient carbon sequestration offsets are? Check out the full article here: “How Effective and Efficient Are Carbon Sequestration Offsets? Here Are the Facts

How Could You Offset Your Own Carbon Footprint With Carbon Sequestration Offsets

The market for carbon offsets was small in the year 2000, but by 2010 it had already grown to represent nearly $10 billion worldwide. The voluntary carbon offset market (VCM) is where everyday consumers can purchase carbon offsets to offset their carbon emissions. 

The Ecosystem Marketplace predicts the VCM can grow to $50B by the year 2050. And because carbon sequestration offsets can be effective and efficient at reducing carbon emissions, they are predicted to make up an increasingly larger share of this market.

Related: Are you interested in learning more about the best carbon sequestration offsets? Check out the full article here: “Best Carbon Sequestration Offsets
Carbon Sequestration Offset CompanyQuick Facts
ClimeworksAbout: Carbon offset purchases support the practice of direct CO2 removal, where specialized machines remove CO2 directly from the air and store it in rock formations underground.
Costs: $1.20 per 1kg of CO2
The Arbor Day FoundationAbout: Carbon offset purchases support afforestation (and reforestation) projects in the Mississippi Alluvial Valley (US), Nicaragua, and Peru.
Costs: $40 per 1,000kg of CO2
REDD.plusAbout: Carbon offset purchases support UNFCCC-verified REDD+ projects around the globe. REDD.plus is a central registry and exchange for REDD+ Result Units, a type of carbon credit. 
Costs: $16 per ton of CO2 
SeaTreesAbout: Carbon offset purchases support coral reef/kelp forest/watershed restoration as well as mangrove tree planting.
Costs: $22 per 1,000kg of CO2
HuskAbout: Husk converts rice husks into biochar, fertilizers, and biopesticides via smokeless pyrolysis, preventing the re-emission of carbon into the atmosphere. 
Costs: Husk uses resellers to sell its solutions. Visit Patch’s website to learn more about pricing. 
NovocarboAbout: Novocarbo uses pyrogenic carbon capture and storage, which converts CO2 into regenerative energy and biochar. The biochar can be used as soil, as a replacement for cement, and in regenerative agriculture.
Costs: Novocarbo uses resellers (e.g., Puro.earth and Carbonfuture), costs are determined with these.
EcologiAbout: Carbon offset purchases support third-party certified reforestation/afforestation carbon offset projects including those in Madagascar, Mozambique, Bolivia, Morocco, Senegal, and Uruguay.
Costs: $6.04 per 1,000 kg of CO2 offset
One Tree PlantedAbout: Carbon offset purchases support reforestation/afforestation projects including those in the US, Romania, Iceland, and Africa.
Costs: $20 per 1,000kg of CO2
The Ocean FoundationAbout: Carbon offset purchases support the SeaGrass Grow, seagrass planting project.
Costs: $20 per 1,000kg of CO2
Wildlife WorksAbout: Carbon offset purchases support third-party certified carbon offset projects including The Kasigau Corridor, Mai Ndombe, and Southern Cardamom REDD+ projects in Kenya, Cambodia, and Colombia respectively.
Costs: $20 per ton of CO2
NeustarkAbout: Neustark removes CO2 from the atmosphere and stores it in recycled concrete, and they cut new CO2 emissions by reducing the use of traditional cement.
Costs: Costs are determined after initial contact.
greenSandAbout: greenSand uses Olivine rocks, which trap CO2 when they come into contact with water. For every ton of CO2 purchased, greenSand spreads 1 ton of Olivine, which can in turn absorb and permanently store 1 ton of CO2.
Costs: $82 per 1,000kg of CO2
Vi AgroforestryAbout: Vi Agroforestry specializes in poverty reduction and environmental improvement through agroforestry and improved farming practices. 
Costs: $28 per 1,000kg of CO2 offset
TerrapassAbout: Carbon offset purchases support the reforestation, afforestation, and REDD+ projects in Peru, Canada, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, and the US.
Costs: $16.51-$17.63 per 1,000kg of CO2

What Are The 6 Pros and 6 Cons of Carbon Sequestration Offsets

Carbon sequestration offsets can be permanent, immediate, cost-effective, have low rates of carbon re-emission, and reinforce our carbon sinks depending on the specific type of offset. They also allow us to reduce carbon emissions in ways we wouldn’t be able to accomplish individually.

However, carbon sequestration offsets can lack permanence, can be relatively expensive, may not be scaled to compensate for our global emissions, can negatively alter ecosystems, and can be difficult to standardize, verify, and monitor, depending on the specific type of offset. They also do not reduce your own carbon emissions, which can lead to greenwashing.

Related: Are you interested in learning more about the pros and cons of carbon sequestration offsets? Check out the full article here: “Carbon Sequestration Offsets: All 6 Pros and 6 Cons Explained

What Are the 6 Pros of Carbon Sequestration Offsets

Carbon sequestration offsets have various pros that make them effective at reducing carbon emissions.

6 Pros of Carbon Sequestration OffsetsQuick Facts
#1: Carbon sequestration offsets can be permanentDirect carbon/air capture (DCC/DAC) and carbon mineralization offsets permanently remove carbon from the atmosphere
#2: Carbon sequestration offsets can reduce CO2 emissions quicklyDCC/DAC, carbon mineralization, REDD+, and some blue carbon offsets reduce emissions quicker than other nature-based solutions.
#3: Carbon sequestration offsets can be cost-effectiveReforestation, afforestation, REDD+ and blue carbon offsets are some of the most cost-effective methods of carbon emission reduction.
#4: Carbon sequestration offsets can reinforce our carbon sinksReforestation, afforestation, REDD+, and blue carbon offsets reinforce our terrestrial and marine carbon sinks, which are capable of absorbing billions of tons of CO2 every year. 
#5: Carbon sequestration offsets can have low rates of carbon re-emissionDCC/DAC and carbon mineralization processes have a low rate of carbon re-emission, making them effective at removing carbon. 
#6: Carbon sequestration offsets allow us to reduce carbon emissions in ways we wouldn’t be able to accomplish individuallyCarbon sequestration offsets allow us to reduce emissions from activities where sustainable alternatives are not yet widely available. 

What Are the 6 Cons of Carbon Sequestration Offsets

Understanding the drawbacks of carbon sequestration offsets is important in order to effectively mitigate climate change.

6 Cons of Carbon Sequestration OffsetsQuick Facts
#1: Carbon sequestration offsets can lack permanenceReforestation, afforestation, REDD+, and blue carbon offsets can lack permanence because they are reversible, nature-based solutions.
#2: Carbon sequestration offsets can be relatively expensive DCC/DAC and carbon mineralization are some of the more expensive methods of carbon removal. With further research, development, and funding, this could decrease in coming years. 
#3: Carbon sequestration offsets may not yet be scaled to compensate for our global emissionsDCC/DAC, carbon mineralization, and blue carbon offsets are not yet scaled to keep pace with our global carbon emissions due to various technological and financial barriers. 
#4: Carbon sequestration offsets can negatively alter ecosystemsAfforestation and carbon mineralization offsets can negatively alter ecosystems if projects are not planned and sited properly.
#5: Carbon sequestration offsets can be difficult to standardize, verify, and monitorBlue carbon and agricultural carbon offsets can be difficult to standardize, verify, and monitor because there different methodologies for assessing them.
#6: Carbon sequestration offsets do not reduce your own carbon emissionsIf emissions are only offset and not reduced from the source, this could lead to greenwashing, when the consumer is deceived into thinking they are offsetting their emissions but in reality, they are not. 

How Can Carbon Sequestration Offsets Help Mitigate Climate Change

Climate change is a severe and long-term consequence of fossil fuel combustion. Carbon sequestration offsets can help mitigate climate change because they eliminate fossil-fuel-derived carbon from our atmosphere which, if left untreated, can remain there for tens of thousands of years and exacerbate the negative effects of climate change.

How is Climate Change Defined

Climate change is arguably the most severe, long-term global impact of fossil fuel combustion. Every year, approximately 33 billion tons (bt) of CO2 are emitted from burning fossil fuels. The carbon found in fossil fuels reacts with oxygen in the air to produce CO2

Climate change: changes in the earth’s weather, including changes in temperature, wind patterns and rainfall, especially the increase in the temperature of the earth’s atmosphere that is caused by the increase of particular gasses, especially carbon dioxide.

Oxford Dictionary

Atmospheric CO2 fuels climate change, which results in global warming. When CO2 and other air pollutants absorb sunlight and solar radiation in the atmosphere, it traps the heat and acts as an insulator for the planet. Since the Industrial Revolution, Earth’s temperature has risen a little more than 1 degree Celsius (C), or 2 degrees Fahrenheit (F). Between 1880-1980 the global temperature rose by 0.07C every 10 years. This rate has more than doubled since 1981, with a current global annual temperature rise of 0.18C, or 0.32F, for every 10 years. 

As outlined in the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement, we must cut current GHG emissions by 50% by 2030 and reach net zero by 2050

How Do Carbon Offsets Generally Help Mitigate Climate Change

Levels of carbon in our atmosphere that cause climate change have increased due to human emissions since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution in 1750. The global average concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere today registers at over 400 parts per million. Carbon offsets can help prevent these levels from increasing even more.

When you hear the words “carbon offset”, think about the term “compensation”. Essentially, carbon offsets are reductions in GHG emissions that are used to compensate for emissions occurring elsewhere

Carbon offsets that meet key criteria and verified project standards, are additional and permanent, and are a part of projects that are carried out until the end of their lifespan have the best chance of reducing carbon emissions and therefore reducing climate change. 

When we offset CO2 we also slow the rate of global temperature rise, which in turn minimizes the effects of climate change. 

How Do Carbon Sequestration Offsets Specifically Help Mitigate Climate Change

Carbon sequestration in general can specifically help mitigate climate change because it eliminates atmospheric carbon, which when emitted, can remain in our atmosphere for a long period of time

Reforestation, afforestation, and REDD+ offsets specifically help mitigate climate change because they plant more trees, and trees remove CO2 from the air as they grow. By increasing the number of trees on our planet, we increase the amount of carbon they are capable of storing. The more carbon our forests can sequester, the less carbon there is in our atmosphere. 

Blue carbon offsets specifically help mitigate climate change because they protect coastal and marine ecosystems, which are capable of absorbing more CO2 per acre than rainforests and at a rate 10x greater. 

Direct carbon/air capture and carbon mineralization offsets specifically help mitigate climate change because these methods permanently lock away CO2 for thousands of years with little to no re-emission.

Agricultural carbon offsets such as biochar, agroforestry, avoided grassland conversion, and CH4 capture can specifically help mitigate climate change because they reduce CO2 and CH4 emissions in one of the biggest industries worldwide.

What Are Better Alternatives to Carbon Sequestration Offsets

If used correctly, carbon sequestration offsets can provide environmental, economic, and social benefits beyond reducing carbon emissions. They have the potential to instigate meaningful environmental change and begin to reverse some of the effects of climate change. 

However, we can’t let this method be a guilt-free way to reduce carbon emissions. Carbon sequestration offsets must be used in conjunction with direct carbon reduction measures to reduce carbon emissions in the long term. 

These reduction measures don’t have to involve drastic changes either. Actions that may seem small can have a big impact because those small changes add up! You can reduce your carbon footprint in three main areas of your life: household, travel, and lifestyle. 

Reduce your household carbon footprint:

Reduce your travel carbon footprint:

  • Walk or bike when possible: The most efficient ways of traveling are walking, bicycling, or taking the train. Using a bike instead of a car can reduce carbon emissions by 75%. These forms of transportation also provide lower levels of air pollution.

Reduce your lifestyle carbon footprint:

  • Switch to renewable energy sources: The six most common types of renewable energy are solar, wind, hydro, tidal, geothermal, and biomass energy. They are a substitute for fossil fuels that can reduce the effects of global warming by limiting global carbon emissions and other pollutants.
  • Recycle: Recycling uses less energy and deposits less waste in landfills. Less manufacturing and transportation energy costs mean fewer carbon emissions generated. Less waste in landfills means less CH4 is generated.
  • Eat less meat and dairy: Meat and dairy account for 14.5% of global GHG emissions, with beef and lamb being the most carbon-intensive. Globally, we consume much more meat than is considered sustainable, and switching to a vegan or vegetarian diet could reduce emissions. 
  • Take shorter showers: Approximately 1.2 trillion gallons of water are used each year in the United States just for showering purposes, and showering takes up about 17% of residential water usage. The amount of water consumed and the energy cost of that consumption are directly related. The less water we use the less energy we use. And the less energy we use, the less of a negative impact we have on the environment.

Because carbon sequestration offsets are an indirect and not a direct way of reducing emissions, they alone will not be enough to reduce global carbon emissions significantly. Direct measures of emission sequestration, such as reducing individual energy use and consumption, are better alternatives to carbon sequestration offsets. 

Related: Are you interested in learning why reducing your carbon footprint is so important? Check it out in this article here: “4 Main Reasons Why Reducing Your Carbon Footprint Is Important

Final Thoughts

Carbon sequestration offsets are a specific type of carbon offset that focuses on the long-term storage of captured or removed carbon in plants, soils, geologic formations, and the ocean. CO2 reduction occurs as the carbon is incorporated into these ecosystems, either via natural (reforestation, afforestation, REDD+, blue carbon) or artificial (DCC/DAC, carbon mineralization) processes. Each type of sequestration has its pros and cons involving permanence, rapidity and longevity of emission reduction, and costs.

Although carbon sequestration offsets can instigate meaningful change, they should not be seen as the only solution to climate change. They are effective at reducing CO2 in the short term, but in the long term, they fail to reduce CO2 enough. Carbon sequestration offsets also do not reduce your own carbon emissions, which can lead to greenwashing.

When used in conjunction with direct CO2 reduction measures, carbon offsetting can be much more effective. We should reduce our own carbon footprint as much as possible first, and only then choose the most effective carbon sequestration offsets.

Stay impactful,

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