What is Carbon Balanced Offsetting?
C-Level stands for carbon level. When we founded the business in 2000 we wanted to introduce new language to business so we coined thre phrases: Carbon Footprint, Carbon Compensation and Carbon Balanced.
Carbon Balanced is the aspiration, the status and its what we certify clients on. As a concept and term it is bigger and deeper than carbon offsetting. It subsumes offsetting. Balanced refers to the holistic nature of what we do. Its stands for Action on carbon. Action on forests. With Communities. It is delivered through our relationship with the worlds best verified carbon projects under the Plan Vivo Standard. Its the start of a journey. Not an absolute. But always it is about bringing carbon down to earth using the natural powers of indigenous forests and people.
17 years ago, when C Level started, we rarely used the word ‘carbon offset’. Instead, we coined the phrase ‘carbon balanced’ which, to our ears, carries a more well rounded sense of what the process is about.
In this article, we’ll explore a little of what we mean by carbon balancing, and the processes by which we facilitate others to balance the effects of our way of life. It’s not a solution, but it’s a great step forward in taking responsibility for our output as we all move towards a lighter footprint on this earth.
What is Carbon Balanced
Perhaps we can best explain ‘carbon balanced’ by first defining ‘carbon offset’, the more commonly used term. For many people ‘offsetting’ has the sense of a single, finite process which completely counterbalances an original action. We live in a world which favours clear, rational and straight edged processes so it’s a common question for people to ask ‘how many trees do I have to plant to offer my flight from, say, New York to Berlin.’
The problem is, of course, that the reality is not clear and straight edged.
What kind of trees are you talking about planting? Are you going to plant seedlings or saplings? What kind of aircraft did you fly in? What class did you fly in within the aircraft? How far was your actual flight because while NYC to Berlin is 3971 miles no airlines fly directly because they need to main proximity to landing strips at all times in case of emergency.
And so on. These questions disappear into themselves. But the conclusion we reach from them is simple, offsetting is not a straightforward process and the solutions are not exact.
They are a noble gesture, a step in the right direction, and while we aim for accuracy we’re, at best, making a broad stroke.
Into this, the phrase ‘carbon balancing’ strikes a much more accurate note. Balancing does not have the same inference of exactitude. Balancing suggests a more thoughtful attempt to make a positive difference without the sense of having eradicated the original action completely.
Carbon Cycle Balancing
So what does balancing our carbon footprint really mean?
To do this we need to understand where carbon is stored on earth and these are: the biosphere, the earth, the air and water. Carbon is exchanged via 4 main processes which are respiration, transpiration, combustion, and decomposition.
We’re not trying to eradicate carbon – it’s one of the foundational building blocks of life on earth – we’re trying to ensure it is balanced between these 4 reservoirs.
The problem we’re experiencing on earth at the moment is that too much carbon has moved out of the earth (in the form of fossil fuels) and into the atmosphere. More carbon in the atmosphere means hotter temperatures at ground level.
Carbon cycle re-balancing is the activity of reducing and ‘re-balancing’ this extremely delicate spread of carbon.
How C-Level Projects Help Carbon Cycle Balancing
Our projects do several things very well:
- they keep carbon in the ground. Communities are empowered to look after and protect existing trees via economic incentive and training.
- they plant more trees to sequester carbon
- they protect alternative carbon sinks such as mangrove forest conservation.
- poverty reduction which means rural communities can stay on their land
- Each certificate accounts for 1 tonne of CO2 benefit created. 1 tonne of CO2 taken out of the atmosphere or avoided from entering the atmosphere (Plan Vivo REDD+ projects).