Carbon Offsetting – Emissions as a Commodity

German with English subtitle
1 x 52 min

The emission of carbon dioxide from human activities has become one of the focal points of climate change for years. At the moment, 38 billion tons of carbon dioxide are emitted worldwide by human activities. Forests, peatlands, humus soils and oceans are capable of absorbing some of it. However, more than two-thirds of the total amount enters the atmosphere and, according to consensus among experts, has a detrimental effect on our climate. Where prevention and reduction of emissions are not possible, offsetting, in other words saving greenhouse gases elsewhere, could be a way out. Since the turn of the millennium, different markets have emerged in which emission permits and saving certificates are traded. In the European Union, trading is mandatory for the largest emitters from the industries and power generation sector. However, similar mechanisms also exist for companies not covered by this system and for private individuals. All over the world, mainly in emerging and developing countries, projects are being implemented that have a positive impact on the climate by cutting emissions. In most cases, the measures go hand in hand with an increase in the quality of life in the region concerned. Certified credits are then issued for the amount of carbon emissions saved, which are offered on the voluntary offset market. By purchasing these certificates, companies can make themselves “climate neutral” or individuals can improve their own, private carbon footprint. On average, a person currently has to voluntarily spend twenty-five euros to offset an ecological footprint equivalent to one ton of carbon dioxide. Legitimate questions arise: “What happens to the money? What percentage ends up in the project? How much is really contributed to climate protection?”

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