CO2 compensation and flying: part 2

In our previous post we have talked about the importance of compensating your CO2 emissions. Here we will continue on the subject and discuss some particular aspects of CO2 compensation. A lot of people in Europe wonder, why would I contribute to planting trees as far away from home as Africa, or, even more common, South America? Therefore, our next subject is:

Why not compensate CO2 emissions closer to your home-country

The biggest reason here is that the process of CO2 compensation is just much more efficient in the developing countries. Therefore, the same effect can be reached with spending much less money and even effort, than would be required in Europe. For example, often it happens that local people are using wood for cooking purposes. This obviously contributes to deforestation, sometimes drastically. If you provide the people with another greener means of obtaining energy and heat for cooking – it will lead to a significant reduction of CO2 emissions for a relatively small amount of money. In the developed countries such measures have in general already been taken. Therefore, influencing the amount of CO2 emissions in Europe would require much more resources.

Moreover, in most of the developed countries the government is controlling CO2-emissions. It is thus not that easy for independent organizations to influence the process. In some countries even planting a tree in the park requires a lot of bureaucratic preparations. 

How does the process of CO2 compensation really work?

“Collecting” CO2 from the environment during a certain process costs money. Special certificates define the amount of money per kilogram (or a ton) of CO2 collected. Various control check-ups and strict guidelines exist to make sure that the money was actually spend for its intended purpose. External parties usually perform the to prevent the report bias.

There even exists a worldwide CO2 market, where such certificates can be bought and sold. The validity varies between 25 and 30 years. 

But does the market actually function?

Unfortunately, today the CO2 compensation market does not function very efficiently. The problem is that the supply is currently much larger than the demand. This naturally leads to lower prices. Therefore, selling CO2 certificates sometimes delivers less profit that the necessary expenses on project set-up and organization. For example, if you want to set up a successful forest-project, you would easily require 25 to 50 euro to compensate 1 ton CO2. The current prices are much lower. Experts start to agree that a universal minimum prices is necessary.  However, making such arrangements seems very difficult, due to the fact that all agreements have to be international and preferably worldwide valid.

Naturally a question arises: Does it make sense to participate in such projects if they are currently not very efficient? The answer is definitely yes! Especially due to the fact that the lack of demand limits the current market functionality. Contributing to CO2 compensation projects not only reduces your own environmental print, but supports a greener development of the local communities in developing countries.

The ultimate solution

It is very strange that in Europe flying is generally much cheaper than travelling by train. Even though everyone knows that trains are much more environmentally friendly. This is the question of governmental choices. The lower the tax on kerosine – the lower the flight prices. 

The ultimate solution to less CO2 emissions would simply be flying less. Therefore, the prices have to increase. For these purpose all European countries wold have to come to a certain agreement. Ideally, such agreement would be reached between all countries worldwide. However, such an endeavor seems very complicated due to its international format. 

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