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Interview: Carolyn Elefant on the Soundness of Carbon Offsets to Combat Global Warming

Carbon Offsets Daily: Do you think companies should use carbon offsets to mitigate their global warming emissions?

Carolyn Elefant: Companies should first focus on alternative measures to reduce global warming emissions.  For example, many companies use offsets to counterbalance the impact of air travel, though in many cases, they could replace the travel with phone communications or webinars. Similarly, for utilities, direct purchases of renewable power will reduce global emissions far more effectively than offsets.  To the extent that offsets help fund or subsidize renewable energy, I believe that they are a valuable tool in combating climate change.  However, offsets should not be regarded as a free pass for companies to maintain the status quo vis-a-vis their current practices.

These views are my personal views and do not represent an official position of OREC.

Carolyn Elefant, Law Office of Carolyn Elefant and Ocean Renewable Energy Coalition

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One Response to “Interview: Carolyn Elefant on the Soundness of Carbon Offsets to Combat Global Warming”

  1. steve
    on Aug 21st, 2008
    @ 8:53 am

    I mostly agree with one addition. Reducing a company’s climate impact through internal and external reductions (offsets) should be done concurrently. Reducing “first” only to be followed by offsetting the rest of the footprint at some undefined future date does not take responsibility for current emissions–which are, of course, contributing to climate change. By starting immediately on parallel paths: an aggressive reduction plan with an offset plan for the (hopefully declining) ongoing emissions, a company is taking the most comprehensive actions to reduce its climate impact.

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