Principle of carbon offsetting

What is carbon offsetting / Principle of carbon offsetting?


It makes no difference to the global climate, where in the world greenhouse gases (GHG) are emitted and where they are reduced. As a result GHG can be emitted in one corner of the globe and be offset somewhere totally different.

Air travel is a considerable source of GHG. Ideally flying should be avoided completely: i.e. travelling via bus or train or taking part in conferences virtually using video conferencing. If, however, air travel is unavoidable, carbon offsetting offers the possibility to reduce the emissions caused, in some other way.

Air passengers are billed the costs of the CO2 emitted - 25€ / Ton CO2-eq[1]  - and these are invested into a CO2 reduction project. Such climate protection projects can take on different forms and are carried out in different sectors, i.e. reforestation of degraded land or the replacement of a diesel generator with a photovoltaic cell as a means of generating de-central electricity. If these measures are additional (i.e. they are only made possible through the money acquired through offsetting) then the quantity of GHG emitted by the air passenger, is offset.


Goodward, J. & Kelly, A. (2010): The bottom line on offsets. World Resources Institute. Available online: (14.07.2011)

Strickland, D. & Bumpus, A. (2007):Carbon Offsets. ECI's Factsheet Series. Available online: (07.07.2011)

UK Department for Energy & Climate Change - Carbon Offsetting: (07.07.2011)

My Climate – Principle of carbon offsetting: (07.12.2010)

Atmosfair - Carbon offsetting: (07.12.2010)



[1] Greenhouse gases have varying effects on the climate (methane, for example, is 21 times more climate effective than CO2). CO2-eq refers to greenhouse gases, which have been converted to the climate effect of CO2.