Skip Ribbon Commands
Skip to main content
Navigate Up
Sign In
Photo by Flickr user: Tommy Clark

Frequently Asked Questions

What is climate neutrality?

What is offsetting?

Why offset? Don’t we want to reduce emissions?

Why offset with UN certified emission reductions?

How are UN Certified Emission Reductions generated?

How are carbon credits calculated?

How do I know that offsetting projects are trustworthy?​

How do I calculate my climate footprint?

What is climate neutrality?

Climate neutrality is achieved by balancing the amount of emissions your day-to-day activities or business operations generate, with the same amount being reduced (offset) elsewhere in the world. Climate neutrality is not about zero emissions. It is about reducing current emissions to the point where we reach the ultimate balance between emissions and the absorptive capacity of the Earth.

What is offsetting?

Offsetting means that for emissions that you are not able to reduce at home, you reduce the equivalent amount elsewhere. For example, when you purchase and cancel UN-certified emission reductions, you fund projects that reduce emissions in developing countries. The project might install new renewable energy facilities, restore forests, provide clean cook stoves or improve energy efficiency in homes. Offsets with high environmental integrity help you reduce global emissions elsewhere to balance out the unavoidable emissions you cause in your day-to-day life.​

Why offset? Don’t we want to reduce emissions?

To achieve climate neutrality, we must measure what we emit and then reduce our emissions. Even with our best efforts to reduce, daily activities and business operations will result in unavoidable emissions. This is why offsetting, only after measuring and reducing, is key for climate neutrality.

Offsetting is not a way to avoid taking action. Where emissions cannot be entirely eliminated, offsetting demonstrates a commitment to greenhouse gas management while society works toward climate neutrality in the second half of the 21st century.​

Why offset with UN Certified Emission Reductions?

UN Certified Emission Reductions (CERs) are generated by UN Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) projects. Offsetting funds existing projects and encourages more emission reductions while spurring additional clean and green development.

CDM offers a robust portfolio of CERs to choose from. With more than 7500 registered projects in 105 developing countries, and 27 project types, credits are available to help meet a wide variety of sustainability and social responsibility objectives.

Buy offsets from UN-certified projects.​

How are UN Certified Emission Reductions (CERs) generated?

UN-certified carbon credits, also known as Certified Emission Reductions (CERs), are generated from CDM projects that reduce GHG emissions via a variety of methods. These projects can, amongst other approaches:

  • REPLACE the use of dirty fossil fuels with clean renewable energy (wind, hydro, solar, biomass);
  • REDUCE energy consumption and the use of fossil fuels through energy efficiency measures (clean cooking stoves, energy efficient light bulbs);
  • CAPTURE already released carbon in trees and other plants (reforestation and forest regeneration projects), amongst other approaches.

CDM projects have been responsible for avoiding more than 1.5 billion tonnes of GHG emissions.

How are carbon ​credits calculated?

CDM projects and other globally recognised climate credits enable every day practices like food preparation, transportation, electricity generation and product manufacturing, to be reformed in a way that generates fewer GHGs. The exact amount of GHGs avoided are calculated by comparing what emissions would have been without the project to what the emissions are with the project in place. For each tonne of CO2 avoided, one CER is earned.

For example, generating 36,000 megawatt hours of electricity per year with a modern diesel generator emits 28,000 tonnes of CO2 a year. If a CDM hydro project were to replace the diesel energy with clean hydro power energy, then those 28,000 tonnes of CO2 would be avoided each year, earning the CDM project 28,000 annual CERs.

How do I know that offsetting projects are trustworthy?​​

CERs are emission reductions units certified according to strict rules laid down under the auspices of the United Nations. All projects are thoroughly vetted to ensure that claimed emission reductions are real, measurable and additional to what would have occurred without the project.

How do I calculate my climate footprint?

To calculate your climate footprint, use our climate footprint calculator​. It provides a simplified estimate based on your country of residence, or you can complete a series of steps to get a more detailed and specific estimate of your climate footprint.

To calculate your climate footprint for air travel, use ICAO's Carbon Emissions Calculator.