Carbon Offsets: The Basics

carbon offsets

Carbon offsets are a way to balance the negative impact of a meeting on the community in which it is held.

Though conferences and events have an unquestionably positive impact on a city by boosting the local economy, they can also overwhelm local infrastructure, leave behind a significant amount of waste, and generate a large amount of greenhouse gas emissions and a big carbon footprint. Carbon offsets are a global market-based mechanism that do just what their name says: offset the carbon footprint of a meeting.

Offering carbon offsets demonstrates a company’s environmental commitment. They can support local projects that reduce emissions, or the emissions can be generated in one location and verified and validated to reduce emissions in another location.

Types of projects to choose as your carbon offset partner range from waste management projects, which capture and destroy methane from trash buried in landfills, to forest management projects, which increase carbon in the forest and in durable, harvested wood products. There are also agricultural projects that capture and destroy methane from  animal waste and support the installation and operation of anaerobic digesters, lagoon covers and electricity generators. Or the meeting can fund wind offsets to help lower the proportion of electricity derived from dirty power sources.

Before making a choice, the sustainable meeting experts at MeetGreen suggest you consider the following:

  • Is a carbon offset program right for my organization?
  • Will attendees and stakeholders be accepting of the option?
  • Should the program be voluntary, or mandatory?
  • What kind of offset project does the organization want to support?
  • Is it important where the offset project is located? Does it need to be local?
  • Is the offset program to be funded by the organization, sponsors, the individual, attendees or all three?

Learn more about carbon offsets on the MeetGreen web site.

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Barbara Scofidio is editor of Prevue and heads up the Visionary Summits, our exclusive conference series targeting senior-level meeting and incentive planners. In 25 years of covering the industry, her articles have spanned topics ranging from social media to strategic meetings management. She is currently the media liaison for FICP's Education Committee and was the first member of the media ever to be invited to sit on a committee by GBTA, where she spent three years on the Groups and Meetings Committee. She has also been an active member of Site, chairing its Crystal Awards committee and acting as a judge. A familiar face at industry events, Barbara often leads panel discussions or speaks on topics close to her heart, such as green meetings or how the industry can help combat human trafficking. She is also on the board of ECPAT USA, the human trafficking organization. Barbara is based outside Boston, in Groton, Mass.

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