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The best long-term carbon offset projects avoid carbon emissions

“The cleanest, most sustainable kilowatt hour is the one not used.”
-Marianne Osterkorn, executive director, REEEP

Emissions avoidance is the most effective carbon management strategy over a multi-decadal timescale to achieve atmospheric CO2 stabilization and a subsequent decline . This prevents, in the first place, stable underground carbon deposits from entering either the atmosphere or less stable carbon pools on land and in the oceans.

Carbon offsets based on energy efficiency rely on technical efficiencies to reduce energy consumption and therefore reduce CO2 emissions. Such improvements are often achieved by introducing more energy efficient lightening, cooking, heating and cooling systems. These are real emission reduction strategies and have created valid offset projects.

This type of carbon offset provides perhaps the simplest options that will ease the adoption of low carbon practice. When these practices become generally accepted (or compulsory), they will no longer qualify as offsets and further efficiencies will need to be promoted.

Carbon offset projects that avoid carbon emissions

  • Energy efficiencies through reduced energy consumption
    Carbon offsets based on energy efficiency rely on technical efficiencies to reduce energy consumption and therefore lower CO2 emissions.
  • Renewable energy from displaced energy production
    Emission avoidance projects that displace the production of high carbon intensity energy to low or zero emission energies require a greater change in infrastructure and larger capital investments.
  • Fuel emission reductions by cleaner energy production
    One option for emission reduction offsets is the improved disposal of waste methane. When methane capture for power generation becomes business as usual this will no longer work as a carbon offset.

Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Partnership (REEEP) http://www.reeep.org

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