Carbon offsets

How does offsetting work?

Infographic offsetting

Offset units are used to compensate for emissions a business produces and to bring their carbon footprint down to zero. Offset units are generated by projects that reduce, remove or capture emissions from the atmosphere such as reforestation, renewable energy or energy efficiency. 

For example, a project may reduce emissions by changing the timing of savanna burning in Northern Australia or capture emissions by re-vegetating a large area of land. One carbon credit is issued for each tonne of emissions avoided, removed or captured from the atmosphere. 

savanna burning
Photo © Aboriginal Carbon Fund

There are numerous different projects generating offsets in Australia and around the world. To be certified, Climate Active members are required to use offsets that result in genuine emissions reduction

Types of offset projects

Offsets are more than carbon

Many offset projects deliver social, cultural, economic or environmental benefits in addition to reducing emissions.

  • Environmental benefits include increased biodiversity, maintaining habitat for native animal and plant species, improved local air and water quality, avoiding vegetation clearance, re-establishing vegetation on previously cleared areas, and improved environmental management.
  • Social and cultural benefits are the positive aspects for communities where a project is based such as employment for local people, living and working on country, capacity building, improved health and education, and access to clean and affordable energy. 
  • Economic benefits occur when income from the sale of offset credits flows to the community where a project is located and often translates into employment and community support, improved infrastructure, technology transfer, and increased economic activity.
Infographic co-benefits