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Camille O'Sullivan

February 16, 2023

Everything you need to know about carbon offsetting

Why should you neutralise your carbon footprint?

Neutralising your carbon footprint means taking action to counteract the amount of greenhouse gas emissions that you are responsible for producing. This is important because these emissions are contributing to global climate change, which is causing rising temperatures, more extreme weather events, and disruptions to ecosystems. By neutralising your carbon footprint, you can help reduce the amount of harm that you are contributing to the environment and help protect the planet for future generations.

There are several ways to neutralise your carbon footprint, such as investing in renewable energy projects, planting trees, and supporting carbon capture technology. By doing so, you can help reduce emissions elsewhere, effectively "cancelling out" the emissions that you are responsible for producing. Tweak has made the process of doing this simple and affordable. We only support projects that reduce emissions and poverty simultaneously in the belief that this is the unavoidable twin challenge in Africa.

Additionally, offsetting your carbon footprint sends a message to businesses and policymakers that there is demand for environmentally-friendly solutions. This can help drive investment in clean technologies and promote more sustainable practices.

In short, offsetting your carbon footprint is a proactive and meaningful way to take action on climate change, reduce your impact on the environment, and help create a more sustainable future for all.

How does carbon offsetting/neutralising work?

Carbon offsetting is a process that allows individuals and businesses to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions by supporting projects that reduce emissions elsewhere. The goal of carbon offsetting is to neutralise one's carbon footprint, meaning that the total impact of an individual or organisation's emissions on the environment is effectively zero.

Here's how carbon offsetting works:

  1. Measurement: The first step in carbon offsetting is to measure your carbon footprint, which is the total amount of greenhouse gas emissions that you are responsible for producing. Tweak has automated this process by collecting your bank account information (after you have given your consent) which includes all your consumption information such as fuel, electricity and food purchases, etc., which form the basis of someone's carbon footprint.  
  2. Offsetting/Neutralising: Once you have a measurement of your carbon footprint, you can then offset your emissions by supporting projects that reduce emissions elsewhere. This may include investing in renewable energy projects, supporting reforestation or recycling efforts, or funding the development of carbon capture technology.
  3. Verification: To ensure that carbon offsetting is effective, it is important to verify that the emissions reductions from offset projects are real, permanent, and additional to what would have happened without the project. This is typically done by third-party organisations that specialise in carbon offset verification. In the case of Tweak, we have partnered with Credible Carbon who maintains an updated record of what projects receive support, how the project is developing and what has been achieved. The project baseline (how much greenhouse gas is emitted before the investment) is prepared at the start of the project, and verified in an independent audit.
  4. Retirement of offsets: Once you have purchased offsets, they will be retired in your name, so that no one else can use them to offset their own emissions. This helps to ensure that the emissions reductions are real and are not double-counted.

By supporting emissions reduction projects through carbon offsetting, you can effectively neutralise your carbon footprint and reduce your impact on the environment. It's important to note that carbon offsetting is not a substitute for reducing your emissions as much as possible, but rather it is a way to further minimise your impact and contribute to a more sustainable future.

Should I still invest in carbon offsetting despite all the bad press that came out around them lately?

The debate around the effectiveness of carbon offsetting has been ongoing for some time, and there is no straightforward answer to this question. While some argue that carbon offsetting is a useful tool for reducing emissions and mitigating the impacts of climate change, others argue that it can be a way for individuals and companies to "offset" their emissions without making real changes to their behaviour.

In order for carbon offsetting to be effective, it's important to choose high-quality offset projects that have been rigorously vetted and independently verified to ensure that they are having a real impact on reducing emissions. Additionally, carbon offsetting should be seen as one part of a larger strategy to reduce emissions, along with reducing energy use, using public transportation, and supporting clean energy.

Ultimately, the decision to invest in carbon offsetting is a personal one and should be based on a careful consideration of the individual's values, goals, and level of confidence in the quality of the offset projects they are supporting. If you decide to invest in carbon offsetting, it's important to choose a reputable provider and carefully consider the characteristics of the offset projects you support.

Who would benefit from neutralising their footprint?

Anyone can benefit from offsetting/neutralising their carbon footprint, as it is a way to take personal responsibility for reducing one's impact on the environment and combating climate change. Some groups of people who may find it particularly beneficial to offset their carbon footprint include:

  1. Individuals who have a high carbon footprint: People who travel frequently, live in large homes, or have energy-intensive lifestyles may benefit from offsetting their emissions to neutralise their impact on the environment.
  2. Businesses: Companies that have high emissions from their operations, such as manufacturing or transportation, may choose to offset their emissions as a way to demonstrate their commitment to sustainability and to meet their obligations under environmental regulations.
  3. Outdoor enthusiasts and travellers: People who love to explore the outdoors and travel to new places may benefit from offsetting their emissions, as they can help protect the natural environments that they love to enjoy.
  4. Environmental activists: People who are passionate about the environment and want to take concrete steps to reduce their impact on the planet may choose to offset their emissions as a way to demonstrate their commitment to sustainability.

In short, carbon offsetting can benefit anyone who wants to reduce their impact on the environment and help create a more sustainable future for all.

I've heard of other companies that offer carbon offsetting / neutralising. Why should I use Tweak?

We only have South African carbon removal projects present on our platform. We also have a double focus on carbon reduction as well as poverty alleviation, which we believe goes hand in hand in a country like South Africa. Learn more about our carbon removal projects here.

Finally, unlike many other projects, we have partnered with Credible Carbon, a carbon registry based in South Africa who ensures that the projects are fully audited and lead to a verified reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.

Will my contribution make any real difference to climate change?

Your individual contribution to a carbon removal project can certainly play a role in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and mitigating the impacts of climate change. While individual actions alone may not solve the problem of climate change, they can still have a positive impact and serve as an example to others. Every action, no matter how small, can contribute to creating a culture of sustainability and drive demand for more impactful solutions.

That being said, it's important to note that carbon removal projects should be just one part of a larger strategy to reduce emissions and tackle climate change. Individual actions, such as reducing energy use, using public transportation, and supporting clean energy, can also have a significant impact. In addition, it's important for governments and businesses to implement policies and technologies that help reduce emissions and transition to a low-carbon future.

Overall, your contribution to a carbon removal project can make a difference, but it's just one piece of the larger puzzle in addressing climate change.

How much of my contribution goes to the carbon removal projects?

A minimum of 62.5% of carbon revenue is returned to the project; the 37.5% goes to registry fees, audit fees, legal costs and project proponent fees which projects often struggle to pay for upfront, as well as Tweak’s take up fee.

How does Tweak calculate my CO2 emissions?

Read about Tweak’s methodology here.

Why do the carbon projects from other organisations have different prices from Tweak?

The prices for carbon offsets can vary for several reasons, including:

  1. Project type: Different carbon offset projects have different costs and levels of complexity, which can impact the price of the offsets. For example, a reforestation project may be less expensive than a clean energy project, but the latter may have greater emissions reductions potential.
  2. Project location: The cost of developing and implementing carbon offset projects can vary based on location. Projects in countries with lower labor costs and fewer regulatory barriers may be less expensive than those in more developed countries.
  3. Verification and certification: The cost of verifying and certifying the emissions reductions from a carbon offset project can also impact the price of the offsets. Projects that require more rigorous verification and certification may have higher costs.
  4. Market demand: The supply and demand of carbon offsets can also impact their price. When demand for offsets is high, the price may increase, and when demand is low, the price may decrease.
  5. Additionality: The degree to which a project's emissions reductions are additional, meaning that they would not have occurred without the project, can also impact the price of the offsets. Projects that are more additional may have a higher price tag.

It's important to choose a reputable offset provider and carefully consider the characteristics of the project before purchasing offsets to ensure that your investment is having a meaningful impact on reducing emissions. Our projects are all certified by Credible Carbon (see more info about Credible Carbon here).

Who is Credible Carbon? 

At Tweak, we’ve partnered with Credible Carbon, a registry that sells credits from carbon removal projects that are independently audited against carbon market standards approved by the UNFCCC

Credible Carbon is a transparent and robust carbon trading system that helps support projects in South Africa that are part of the country's climate change solution. Their primary focus is on creating emission reduction projects that help alleviate poverty in local communities.

Every Credible Carbon project is independently audited and must comply with the Credible Carbon Standard, which involves answering four grounding questions:

  1. Is the project real and up and running?
  2. Is the planned technology functioning as intended?
  3. Is the quantification of carbon in line with accepted norms?
  4. Does the project make a discernible impact on poverty?

Credible Carbon's audits are conducted by independent and recognized entities involving site visits and beneficiary interviews. They apply simpler, voluntary carbon market processes, rather than those used by other standards, which helps reduce costs for small, poverty alleviating projects.

At Tweak, we believe that Credible Carbon's approach aligns with our values of supporting real projects that benefit real people. In fact, across their projects, between 60% and 80% of net carbon revenue is returned to the project beneficiaries as cash or reinvestment. 

We're thrilled to work with Credible Carbon and are confident that our users can trust them to provide high-quality offsets that align with our mission to reduce the carbon footprint of our community.

For more information on Credible Carbon please visit their website. 

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