Offsets: How Long is Long Enough?

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September 9, 2021

One of the key criteria in carbon offsets is “permanence.” But when it comes to permanence, carbon offset markets today are going in two distinctly different directions. On the one hand, you have offsets that promise long-term and even geologically permanent climate change mitigation benefits e.g., by mineralizing CO2 into rock. On the other hand, you have offsets that only promise to delay CO2 emissions by a matter of years, or even a single year. Notwithstanding price tags that differ by more than an order of magnitude (e.g., ~$500 for the former, ~$10/ton for the latter), both categories are being marketed as equally fit-for-purpose offsets.

Are they really the same thing for purposes of climate change mitigation? Obviously not, but the underlying question rapidly becomes: “how long is long enough” when it comes to keeping a ton of CO2 out of the atmosphere for it to be considered a carbon offset? Our new Climate Insights page “Offsets: How Long is Long Enough?” digs into this topic and we encourage you to take a look. It follows up on this LinkedIn thread that received more than 10,000 views

It’s important to note that this Climate Insights page is focused specifically on the question of “offset permanence.” If you want to explore other aspects of carbon offsets, you can explore offset-related topics comprehensively elsewhere in the Climate Web, e.g. through this Carbon Offsets Roadmap Lite.

To Learn More About the Climate Web

Our Introduction to the Climate Web Climate Site is a useful way to get a quick picture of the Climate Web. Note that if you’re accessing the Climate Web after downloading it to your computer, as opposed to online, you’ll find the interface much faster and more powerful.

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