Should carbon offsets be promoted as a way to reduce global warming in the US?


Greenhouse gases

•Carbon Dioxide - fossil fuel burning, land clearing/burning.

•Methane - Breakdown of organic material by anaerobic bacteria.

•Nitrous Oxide - Biomass burning, automobile exhaust.

•Ozone – automobile exhaust

•Chlorofluorocarbons - Refrigerants, cleaning solvents, propellants.

•Water vapor – naturally occurring

CO2 measurements

Want to reduce global warming?

Two ways to do it.

•Reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

•Remove greenhouse gasses from the atmosphere.


Legal approaches to slow global warming

•Kyoto Protocol - agreement reached during 1997 meeting to reduce CO2 emissions from 39 developed countries to 5.2% below 1990 levels by 2012. 

•2001 US pulled out of the agreement.

•28 states have climate action plans

•9 states have emissions targets (including Washington)

•2005 Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels led American cities to Kyoto Protocol-like targets – over 300 participating



•ACUPCC signed by Dr Walton Sept 2007

–Complete a greenhouse gas inventory within the first year (done in June 2008)

–Develop a plan within two years to be climate neutral (due September 2009)

–Make climate neutrality and sustainability a part of the curriculum and other educational experience for all students.

•Over 500 colleges participating

Carbon Offsets

•A carbon offset is a financial tool designed to alleviate global warming.

•Measured in metric tons of carbon dioxide-equivalent (CO2e).

•One carbon offset represents the reduction of one metric ton of carbon dioxide or equivalent

•If you can’t or don’t want to change your actions enough to reduce your GHG emissions, you can pay for someone else to offset them