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What is Carbon Offset Permanence and How Do You Ensure It?

Carbon offsets from a variety of projects are hitting the market for businesses to invest and participate in, and experts have some basic questions to determine their quality. The first is whether or not a project is additional. The second is whether or not that reduction in carbon is permanent.

What is Carbon Offset Permanence?

Carbon Dioxide or CO2 is a very sturdy gas. While most CO2 will eventually dissipate, about a quarter of it will hang out in the atmosphere for hundreds or even thousands of years. CO2, which is often referred to as simply “carbon emissions” is one of those greenhouse gases (GHG) that are getting trapped in our atmosphere, heating up the planet, and making wild changes to our climate. That is why it is so important that we not only reduce those carbon emissions, but also that any effort to do so should be permanent.

Permanent carbon offsets are reductions that cannot be reversed. In other words, the carbon removed can’t be reintroduced into the atmosphere. Obviously, in order to lower our global carbon footprint, the emissions we remove need to stay gone forever. We’re talking centuries, not years. 

What Makes a Carbon Offset Not Permanent?

There are a few ways that carbon offsets can prove to not be permanent. 

Tree planting is a popular way of sequestering carbon. Trees “breathe in” carbon dioxide and “breathe out” oxygen as a waste product. This is great for all the oxygen-breathing organisms in the world if the trees reach maturity and stick around for at least 100 years. However, if something happens to disrupt that cycle, like a forest fire or logging cutting them down, the sequestered carbon is released back into the atmosphere.

Agricultural credits, like no till agreements designed to trap carbon in the ground, can be effective in sequestering carbon as long as the soil is not turned over should the land change hands.

How Does Clearloop Make Permanence a Problem of the Past?

We’re tackling the problem of permanence in carbon emissions reductions by commissioning new solar projects that will permanently clear the carbon out of the U.S electricity grid by replacing fossil fuels with clean energy for at least the next 40 year life of the project. The carbon credit that companies receive is based on the marginal emissions avoided with intervention of the new solar capacity they’re helping us build.  

Solar power produces carbon-free electricity, which means that even as more demand is placed on our grid by the electrification of everything from our cars to our airplanes, we’re still keeping more carbon dioxide from being created by keeping fossil fuels in the ground in the first place. By preventing fossil fuels from being burned to create carbon emissions, there is no carbon to be reintroduced into the atmosphere.

Our solar projects are built to last for at least 40 years, replacing coal and natural gas-powered electricity to permanently clean up the grid and make carbon a relic of the past. When our solar project has lived out it’s four decades, the replacing solar project will be even more efficient and last even longer. We’re ready to roll up our sleeves and clean up the grid once and for all, are you?


Want to learn more about how to reclaim your company’s carbon footprint and expand access to clean energy with Clearloop? Drop us a note at hello@clearloop.us or contact us here.

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