WHAT ABOUT CARBON OFFSETTING?
Offsetting is a way of compensating for your carbon dioxide emissions. It doesn’t stop your impact, but reduces emissions somewhere else on your behalf. When you pay for carbon offsets, they’ll use your money for things like:
- Building renewable energy projects, which switches electricity production from dirty fossil fuels to clean, green options
- Planting trees, which absorb carbon dioxide as they grow
- Energy efficient technology, like electric stoves and lamps, to replace older, dirtier technology
- Methane recovery, from landfill or livestock, recapturing waste gas for energy
If you measure all of your emissions for a project (like a tour), an entity (like a band), or an activity (like an album), you can buy offsets equal to that amount and make it ‘carbon neutral’. You’ve still created emissions, but you’ve effectively balanced them out by contributing to an equal amount of offsets somewhere else.
So, can we just offset all our emissions? No. We can’t use offsets as an escape hatch from reality. There’s already far too much carbon in the atmosphere, and offsets are hard to measure and monitor (and even offsets that look ok can turn out to be downright fraudulent).
What we need is deep green, transformative change. So start with a genuine plan to lower your own carbon emissions - and encourage your fans to do the same - then once you’ve reduced as much as you can, think of offsets as a positive bonus.
Some products (like flights) offer carbon offsetting as an additional add-on. You’re arguably better to do it than not at all, but check what you’re getting and consider offsetting separately if the quality isn’t high. Below is our suggested approach.
Start by measuring your carbon footprint
Reduce your emissions as much as possible
Use this guide to reduce your impacts from waste, transport, food, merch and more, and develop a plan to keep improving over time. Need support? Get in touch with the team at Green Music Australia. It’s literally why we exist.
Choose quality offsets that are independently accredited
If you do buy offsets, look for ones that are accredited with a reliable standard that is there to to make sure offset projects do what they say:
- Gold Standard credits accredited by the World Wildlife Fund
- Verified Carbon Units (VCUs) accredited by international non-profit VERRA
Here are some reputable sites where you can buy good quality offsets directly (as suggested by the David Suzuki Foundation):
Gold Standard is, as the name suggests, the gold standard
Planetair only uses Gold Standard offsets
Atmosfair sells offsets from projects that are either registered or applying for Gold Standard
Less uses high quality offsets, is independently audited and tracks offsets on internationally recognised registries
And a couple of good local options:
Not all offset projects are created equal. And it can be hard even for experts to sort the good from the bad. We think the options above are good choices, but things can change. That’s why we suggest you think of offsets as a way to take responsibility for your unavoidable emissions, rather than as an ultimate solution. If you try to make big claims about your ‘carbon neutrality’ without making sure your offsets are reliable, you could run into issues. Reforestation projects, for example, are popular but risky because of difficulties in measuring, managing and monitoring the projects and the captured carbon. Some even have issues with climate colonisation, where overseas projects infringe on First Nations lands.
If you want to understand how different kinds of offset projects work, along with the associated risks and things to watch out for - like double counting, poor management, propping up dodgy industries, and more - check out our website.
Tell your fans about it
Explain what you’ve done, sharing why it matters to you and how it’s part of your bigger commitment to living green through your music practice. Some bands work with their ticketing company to add a small carbon offsetting fee to ticket purchases, allowing fans to offset some of a concert’s emissions. This can be a good way to raise awareness and do good in the world. Just make sure the offsets are from a good source.