SIM Social Impact Movement

How Organizations are Using Carbon Credits

Although the phrase “carbon credits’’ may sound like some new way to fight climate change, in reality, carbon credits are a permit given to organizations allowing them to emit one ton of carbon dioxide. Essentially, carbon credits allow companies to pollute to a certain extent, preventing them from releasing more carbon dioxide than their carbon credits allow. If companies exceed their carbon credit amount, they will be charged a fine. If they do not use up all of their carbon credits, they are able to sell unused credits to other companies who want to release more emissions. In a way, this system could be seen as good because it prevents organizations from releasing unlimited amounts of carbon dioxide into the air. It could also be argued that this system is bad, because trading carbon credits can allow wealthier companies to buy as many carbon credits and release as much carbon dioxide as they want regardless.

Using Carbon Credits for Good

There are some organizations who do work specifically to trade carbon credits in a strategic way to try to aid the climate. One such organization is called Sustainable Travel International, an organization that works to sell carbon credits that might be used by airlines or travel in order to use the money to protect the Earth. In this effort, Sustainable Travel International is able to work with airlines in hopes to offset some of the large carbon footprint that comes along with air travel. TeraPass is another organization that works to support sustainable energy, capturing landfill gas, and farming. Like Sustainable Travel International, TeraPass uses money from sold carbon credits in order to fund their projects.

The Business of Trading Carbon Credits

Many organizations have made trading carbon credits into an entire business model, using carbon credits as if they are stocks or cryptocurrency. Carbon credits being used as a kind of currency with fluctuating value is arguably not the best idea, as it monetizes a program that should be used to prioritize saving the planet above making money. Organizations who use their earnings from carbon credit trading to help save the planet could argue that they are causing more harm than good. But using the current system strategically is a less productive way of handling climate change because it is not enough. Larger solutions are becoming necessary as the climate situation becomes more dire, and businesses that are trading carbon credits ignore the larger issue at hand; removing carbon emissions from the Earth’s atmosphere.

The Future of Carbon Credits

It is likely that as the climate emergency progresses, preventing companies from exceeding a limit of emissions by using carbon credits will not be enough, fast enough. More active action is needed, compared to how passive carbon credit training can be. Removal of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere is more important than limiting the amount of new carbon dioxide added, because carbon credits are part of a system that still allows companies to release emissions into the atmosphere. As long as the amount of emissions increases, the climate emergency will continue to worsen. Solutions like refreezing ice in the arctic or removing emissions from the atmosphere are becoming more important and necessary than trading credits, profiting off of this emergency.

Author: Gabi Jonikas