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High levels of carbon emissions into the atmosphere cause a phenomenon known as global warming. Regardless of the location on earth where carbon is emitted, the entire planet is affected by it. On the other hand, any carbon emission reduction, independently of where it occurs, helps stabilize the planet’s climate. This is the basic notion behind carbon offsetting: emissions are reduced where it’s most easy and cheap to do.

Imagine a city in an emerging country with a landfill site emitting 1,000 tons of methane annually. Since methane is 21 times more harmful than carbon dioxide, this is the equivalent to 21,000 tons of carbon being emitted annually. This can go on for many decades, because landfill sites can emit methane for a period of 10 to up to 50 years.

This can be avoided if we capture the gas and use it to generate electricity. Although burning 1,000 tons of methane to produce electricity will generate 2,750 tones of carbon, we would still have a net total of 18,250 tones of carbon emissions reduction. But the city lacks the money to do such a project.

At the same time a power utility in Europe is obliged to reduce annual carbon emissions by the rate of 18,000 tons. The decomissioning of old power plants can only happen after modern and efficient power stations have been built to replace them. How can this utility achieve its emission targets? By financing the landfill project in this city.

This solves both problems: the European company meets its reductions target and the city gets rid of a source of air and also visual pollution.

Carbon Offsetting makes possible both the development of a low-carbon energy infrastructure in emerging countries as well as the transfer of green technology they don’t have and can’t usually afford to buy. It is a win-win situation for all those involved.

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