Carbon offsets

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Carbon offsets are a mechanisms by which carbon emissions by individuals and/or companies, or even countries, can be "offset" there carbon emissions.

The concept revolves around buying an "offset" in the form of a certificate or credit, which is associated with activity that is supposed to be linked to tangible carbon emission reductions. Such activities include the establishment of tree plantations.

However, there are no international agreed offset mechanisms, or standards in place for them. Emission reductions from offsets cannot be guaranteed. For example, a tree plantation could be burnt in a bushfire, resulting in the carbon it stores being released to the atmosphere.

Australian Government National Carbon Offset Program

The Australian government is currently in a consultation period on the regulation of Carbon Offsets.[1] The standard will provide guidance on what constitutes a genuine, additional voluntary offset credit, set requirements for the verification and retirement of such credits, and provide principles for calculating the emissions of an organisation, product or service which could be offset.


  1. Australian Government National Carbon Offset Australian Government, 9 February 2009

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