As global climate change becomes reality, and as it becomes increasingly clear that human activity is fueling it, there has been a great deal of interest in developing strategies to cope with the carbon emissions that are responsible
for global climate change. One strategy frequently discussed involves neutralizing carbon footprints via carbon offsets. Carbon offsets represent a kind of bookkeeping solution to the problem: the basic idea is that it is permissible to engage in activities that produce carbon emissions, as long as one also takes corresponding steps to decrease or mitigate those emissions in other areas. The following are some actual examples:
Qantas Airlines enters into an agreement to purchase offset credits, and to offer offsets to passengers. (Fly Carbon Neutral Program Overview 2013)
BP [British Petroleum] has a “Target Neutral” program for the 2012 summer Olympics, designed to offset the carbon emissions produced by travel related to the Olympic Games. (Voegele 2012)
Duke University supports the development of carbon offset programs to limit the University’s environmental impact (Sustainability: The Duke Carbon Offsets Initiative). Duke is not the only university to use carbon offsets as part of its environmental program.