Carbon offsetting is mostly a scam. The term needs to be reserved only for projects that:

a) increase net carbon sinks when taking into account the entire lifecycle emissions from construction and maintenance,
b) can be completed without violating any other planetary boundaries (biodiversity, fresh water, chemical pollution, etc), and
c) would not happen on their own without the offsetting project.

So reforestation of destroyed land, and almost nothing else.

And even with all those boxes checked, carbon offsetting is only justified when used temporarily to help get an industry over a rapid transition period to no emissions.

So for example offsetting holiday flights is always a scam and .

@ttiurani what does “justified” mean in this context?

I agree WRT e.g. reforestation needing to happen in places where it doesn’t supplant some other ecosystem. But there are some things that will be difficult to do without burning hydrocarbons, at least for the foreseeable future, and investing in carbon-negative infrastructure (such as forests) still helps reduce those impacts somewhat.


@kechpaja I agree that we need a lot of ecological projects, but the mechanism to achieve those should not be net zero schemes. That is: I think it's very rarely justified to sell permissions to emit via carbon offsets, rather than force via legislation and taxes to stop emitting in the first place.

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