If you stay up to date on current events, chances are you've heard about carbon credits. Hundreds (if not thousands) of companies are being founded every day to trade carbon credits. Many companies are purchasing carbon credits to offset their carbon footprint, and EnviroCitizen.org has discovered that even individuals are now able to buy carbon credits to counteract their lifestyles.
Surprisingly, Americans have only been buying, selling and trading carbon credits since September 2008. There are many variations of the carbon credit, like a cap-and-trade system, carbon offsets and carbon project. More or less, they are all the same in function. The cap-and-trade system is a bit different as it targets businesses only. With a cap-and-trade system, businesses are allotted a certain amount of carbon that they can emit annually. If the business exceeds the allotment, they are required to purchase carbon credits or carbon offsets. If the business does not reach the allotment, they can sell the unused carbon credits or carbon offsets to businesses that need them. The idea is that companies that are able to make their practices greener will be able to make more money by selling their excess carbon credits, therefore motivating everyone to lower their carbon emissions.
Carbon offsets are a less restricted means of reducing carbon emissions. Anyone can buy carbon credits as they neutralize any carbon emissions that you create. So, if you fly for a trip or drive an SUV, you can then purchase a carbon credit that will negate the emissions from your trip or your daily driving habits.
You may be surprised to learn that in 1870, the level of carbon dioxide (CO2) gas in the atmosphere was about 290 parts per million (ppm) and the mean global temperature was about 13.6 degrees Celsius, or about 56.5 degrees Fahrenheit. However, in 2009 the level of CO2 in the atmosphere measures about 385 ppm (about a seventy percent increase) and the mean global temperature hovers around 14.5 degrees Celsius, or about 58.1 degrees Fahrenheit. That's definitely a notable change in our environment!
Carbon emissions have been more or less tracked for about 40 years. Scientists in the 1960's estimated that the effect of carbon emissions would become apparent in about the year 2000. They were, more or less, correct. People were aware of the affect of carbon emissions before 2000, though. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) was established in 1988. Then in 1997, the Kyoto Protocol set targets to reduce emissions and asked that other nations sign the Treaty. In 2001, the IPCC published a report that boldly stated that global warming existed, effectively ending the debate among scientists about whether or not global warming existed (the United States government maintained a stance of doubt on the matter). A few years later, the Kyoto Protocol went into effect in 2005. Many countries signed the Treaty, including Australia, Canada, Japan and many countries in Europe (the United States signed the protocol as a symbolic gesture, but it was never ratified). The Kyoto Protocol effectively introduced the cap-and-trade system and the idea of carbon credits.
EnviroCitizen.org urges you to analyze your lifestyle and habits and discover if there are ways in which you can decrease your carbon emissions, whether by altering your habits or purchasing carbon credits. Either way, you'll be doing yourself, your family and the environment a favor!