Small Steps, Big Impact: How Micro-Offsets Can Help Us Reach Net Zero
The ecological footprint of modern consumerism is undeniable, and with businesses aiming to achieve net-zero within the next 20 years climate finance has grown significantly. While certain aspects of it, such as scope 1 emissions*, have a particularly noticeable and easily measurable impact on the environment, it is important to recognize that all daily activities and purchases contribute to greenhouse gas emissions.
For example, in the UK, online shopping has continued to increase -a total of $129 billion spent in 2021, although the average transaction value was below $130, indicating that the majority of online consumer activity consists of low-value transactions occurring at high volume.
Reducing carbon emissions is imperative in our efforts to mitigate the impact of climate change and achieve net-zero, and the cumulative impact of these small actions should not be underestimated. Traditional carbon offsets have been out of reach for individuals and many small to medium-sized companies due to their required large purchase amounts of one metric ton of CO2. To mitigate the environmental impact of daily activities and consumption patterns, it’s crucial to consider the carbon footprint of each purchase and seek out micro carbon offsets.
Micro offsetting is the practice of compensating for small quantities of carbon emissions. Just like breaking down a big task into small, manageable steps, micro offsets made net zero goals more achievable for many small and medium size companies.
Blockchain technology has paved the way for numerous projects that facilitate this compensation process. However, it’s important to note that there are two major ways that web3 companies can do this: by tokenizing carbon offsets or creating CO2 tokens. And even though both utilize blockchain technology, there is a fundamental difference between them.
Tokenized Carbon Offsets vs CO2 tokens
Tokenized Carbon Offsets
Carbon offsets are created off-chain based on the future absorption of CO2 or other greenhouse gases related to each carbon project -here each offset still represents one ton of CO2. Tokenizing carbon offsets involves moving their information and functionality onto a blockchain via “carbon bridges” connected to traditional registries (such as Verra and Gold Standard). Once on-chain, these carbon tokens can be fractionalized into smaller than one metric tonne units.
At Coorest, we take a completely different approach: the whole cycle happens on-chain.
The real tree or planting area is represented digitally as an NFT that contains the GPS location of the real area in its metadata. The real tree or planting area absorbs carbon, and in response, the NFT generates CO2 tokens second by second, in proportion to the trees’ absorbed carbon. This is possible because we monitor planting areas via satellite and that data is transferred to the blockchain via Floodlight Chainlink node. Eliminating intermediaries, CO2 tokens are generated automatically if the smart contract conditions meet.
Each CO2 token represents one kg of absorbed CO2, so it’s like having carbon debits. To offset your emissions, CO2 tokens need to be withdrawn from the circulating supply, to ensure they can never be used for compensation again. Once this is done, a PoCC** (Proof of Carbon Compensation Certificate) — an NFT, to ensure traceability — is generated and automatically sent to the wallet of the person or business that compensated for their footprint.
In conclusion, it’s important to recognize that all our daily activities and purchases contribute to greenhouse gas emissions, and we must take responsibility for our carbon footprint. Micro offsets are accelerating carbon neutrality by enabling businesses and individuals more flexibility and control over offsetting their carbon footprint. Furthermore, micro offsets allow businesses to seamlessly integrate the option for customers to compensate for the precise carbon footprint of their purchase into the customer journey, facilitating individual action towards sustainability.
Cumulative impact of small actions and purchases should not be underestimated, and we must all strive towards mitigating our environmental impact.
*Scope 1 emissions: direct emissions from sources that a company or organization owns or controls.
**PoCC: certificate in an NFT format, to ensure traceability. It contains the date and amount of compensation, the compensator's identity and the reason for compensating.