Creating Carbon Offsets: A New Alternative for Colleges and Universities?

Author(s): Lisa Marie Curtis

Course Name: Lisa Curtis

Program Name: Honors Bachelor of Arts Degree in Politics/Environmental Studies

Institution: Other

Discipline(s): Political Science

Admin Dept(s): Business and Financial Management, Community Service , Facilities Management , Investments/Foundation , Public Relations/Marketing/Communications/Publications , Purchasing/Supply Chain Management , Sustainability Office

Keyword(s): Climate, Financing, Investment, Public Engagement, Purchasing

Publication Date: April, 2010

Paper Type: Undergraduate Thesis

 Mandatory and voluntary carbon offsets have been promoted as an important part of the solution to the climate crisis. They are touted for their economic and environmental efficiency as well as their potential to deliver social benefits. However, as voluntary and mandatory offsets have become more popular, problems in the offset market have followed. A few colleges and universities have begun to experiment with a whole new kind of offset. Instead of purchasing offsets from unknown places, these schools are sponsoring energy efficiency projects in their local communities. This thesis explains how these projects might be considered offsets and evaluates their potential for resolving issues in the market. The development of this type of carbon offsets has significant implications for not only the over 600 institutions that have pledged to become carbon-neutral but also for organizations and individuals in search of a more tangible and locally beneficial way to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions.

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