The Carbon "Offset" Con

Here is the text of an e-mail I sent out earlier today:

Sorry to smash the illusion folks, but I’ve done considerable research into this and carbon “off-sets” are a con.

We cannot neutralise, nor “off-set”, carbon we have already emitted (or are about to emit by driving, flying etc.) by giving someone £7.5/per tonne of carbon we emit.

We cannot consume our ways out of trouble by simply buying a few carbon credits each time we fly, or even by totting up our total carbon footprint for the year and becoming so-called “carbon neutral” citizens.

It may sound strange, but the only way to reduce our carbon emissions is to actually reduce our carbon emissions.

Buying carbon credits to make ourselves feel better simply doesn’t cut it. We need to reduce our direct and indirect consumption of fossil fuels (and *reduce our consumption* of all resources).


Rather than signing up with or (BP’s and ford’s offerings), and then believing that every mile you drive is actually helping the environment, *drive less*.

(see, for example,

Rather than continuing to take all those cheap flights every other weekend, because you’ve “off-set” the emissions, *fly less*.

(a great site about how to travel by train and ship is )

Rather than working out how much energy your house uses and then simply paying your penance to the carbon “off-setters” (the modern-day equivalent of corrupt catholic priests who used to put a price on your sins and then cash in), *use less energy*.

(and switch to EDIT: Jan2022 update: these days we recommend Co-op Community Power )

OK, so “off-setting” *can* mean some money going in the right direction. But even that is very dubious. Nearly all the carbon “offset” companies are run for private profit and they generally all pass the buck when it comes to actually ensuring your money is invested in credible projects

(a pretty good article on this can be found here: )

Therefore, rather than giving money to carbon “off-setters” who lead us to believe we can continue as normal so long as we give them £7.50 for every tonne of carbon we emit, why not…

*Invest your money in a Triodos Renewable Energy Bond*

*Express your interest in helping to fund co-operative community wind farms*

*Lobby your local council to adopt the Merton Rule*

*Forget CO2lonialism, read *Ecology Begins At Home*:

*Learn more about your Ecological Footprint*

*Discover how to create a Happy Planet*

Together we really can create a radically better world.

And we’re going to.

Carbon “off-setting” is not how we’re going to do it.

Warming regards,


PS – lots of fun climate change related stuff happening this weekend: – join in!