The last resort

ImageCarbon offsetting is a major tool in the fight against man-made climate change, yet it is much maligned with some people calling it a permit to pollute. So, what is carbon offsetting, and does it have a part to play in establishing a way for printers to be more environmentally friendly?

The basic idea behind carbon offsetting is that anyone who generates carbon emissions, through any activity from driving a car to turning on a PC, should pay towards the costs of a scheme that reduces an equivalent amount of carbon from the atmosphere. Typical carbon offsetting schemes include planting trees, which can soak up the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, or setting up renewable energy schemes.

On the face of it this would seem to be a good thing, but many people argue that carbon offsetting doesn’t really solve anything. Friends of the Earth describes carbon offsetting schemes as a smokescreen against action to cut emissions. Tony Juniper, director of Friends of the Earth, commented: “We urgently need to cut our emissions, but offsetting schemes encourage individuals, businesses and governments to avoid action and carry on polluting.”

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