It’s possible to be zero carbohydrate and zero carbon, and it’s inaccurate to say that modifying diet is the best way to reduce one’s carbon footprint. This is an update from a 2019 post, a follow-up in 2020, and covers the offset part of the equation – mitigation versus generation of carbon.
It’s relatively easy to offset, or cancel, one’s carbon footprint with verified projects/vehicles through the United Nations (@UNFCCC) as well as other organizations.
What you are doing in this process is providing direct investment in projects that remove carbon or prevent carbon from being emitted in the atmosphere, at an amount equivalent of your personal emissions (or more, if you’d like). This isn’t window dressing, there is strict accounting of investments and actual carbon saved per project. This process is not meant to excuse or remediate waste of resources; it’s a supplement for being a thoughtful consumer.
- I visited the site(s) of reputable carbon offset providers. For 2021, I again elected to go with the United Nations Carbon Offset Platform. I have also used CoolEffect.
a. I chose not to go with a provider related to fossil fuel production or use.
- I reviewed specific projects that are (a) verified and (b) align with my values and interests.
a. Because the major determinants of climate change are fossil fuel use, I selected a renewable energy project for my 2021 offsets.
b. Verified projects have documents indicating how they sequester or reduce carbon emissions.
- I purchased the offsets and received certificates. An offset opportunity is limited, i.e. people cannot overbuy a project once it is funded.
a. The United Nations directs payment to the project itself, which provides an invoice and receipt.
b. CoolEffect handles the transfer of funds with a small (around 10%) overhead as a non-profit organization
These are projects that reduce carbon in the atmosphere in measured amounts, via means that include replacing fossil fuel energy with renewable sources (the project above from the United Nations – @UNFCCC).
This is the specific project I invested in, as an example: See: United Nations online platform for voluntary cancellation of certified emission reductions (CERs). Installation of wind power project in Rajasthan and Tamil Nadu
The idea that diet is the only/best way to mitigate carbon footprint, or that people who eat meat in pursuit of metabolic health are exclusively unable to mitigate their carbon footprint is counterproductive and inaccurate.
I’ve written a separate post detailing the carbon footprint calculation I used to determine how many offsets to purchase. Sneak peak via the image on the right.
A few things are obvious
- The amount required to offset personal carbon footprints isn’t that great – from cents to dollars per metric ton of carbon
- The contribution of diet to carbon footprints within personal carbon footprint isn’t that great – the difference between a diet heavy in read meat and one that’s vegan accounts for substantially less than 10 % of personal carbon footprint, probably less than 5 % – the most important mitigation actions involve energy derived from fossil fuels
- Since my 2019 post, a new study from Japan has calculated the impact of meat to be 9 (nine) % of the difference between high and low-carbon emitting households
- A person making dietary choices in the pursuit of metabolic health (which many are doing today) is not absolved of ethical responsibilities to procure food that’s produced responsibly
- This procedure is going to be far more effective when performed at scale, by large organizations/communities, who are able to shift energy consumption patterns to ones that emit less carbon
We don’t need to ban cars; we need to electrify them (and we need that electricity to come from clean energy). We don’t need to ban burgers; we need climate-friendly beef…The bigger issue is that focusing on individual choices around air travel and beef consumption heightens the risk of losing sight of the gorilla in the room: civilization’s reliance on fossil fuels for energy and transport overall, which accounts for roughly two-thirds of global carbon emissions.See: Individual Choices Won't Be Enough to Save the Planet | Time – @MichaelEMann
- This exercise is useful in personal understanding of the carbon cycle and what’s being doing to mitigate climate change, which is a threat to human health
- We’re in the era of diabetes reversal, why don’t more doctors know?
My disclosures are on this page. Short version, I have none. No endorsement of organizations mentioned here is implied.