Frequently Asked Questions
What is climate change?
The climate is changing because increased radiative forcing has disrupted the energy balance of our planet. This has large impacts on all our ecosystems. During the last decades the global temperature has increased, oceans have become warmer, snow and ice have melted and the sea level has risen. These observed changes have not occurred in earlier decades or millennia.
What causes climate change?
Electromagnetic radiation from the sun passes through the atmosphere to the Earth’s surface, where it is absorbed and reflected back in the form of infrared heat waves. The incoming radiation and the outgoing energy should be in balance. This energy balance is what is called radiative forcing.
If the composition of the atmosphere is changed by increased greenhouse gases (GHGs), like carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4) or nitrous oxide (N2O), this energy balance is disrupted. GHGs in the atmosphere are then blocking the outgoing heat from escaping the Earth, and therefore causing global warming and the different consequences of climate change.
Over millions of years energy from the sun has been stored in geological reserves as oil, gas and coal. Since the industrial era, people have found means to use this energy, but during the combustion process large amounts of carbon dioxide is released to the atmosphere.
GHGs can be measured from ice cores and directly from the atmosphere. These measurements indicate that historical anthropogenic GHG emissions have been rapidly increasing since the prehistoric era. Due to economic and population growth atmospheric concentrations of GHGs have increased to levels that are unprecedented in the last 800,000 years (IPCC Climate Change 2014 Synthesis Report).
What causes carbon emissions?
The majority of Finland’s greenhouse gas emissions come from production and consumption of energy, i.e. mainly from the use of fossil fuels. The high emissions from the energy sector are mainly due to the cold climate, the long distances in Finland and the energy-intensive industry.
However, the Finnish carbon footprint at the individual level is a completely different matter, because we consume a lot of products that have been produced and caused emissions elsewhere. Traveling and especially air travel also cause significant emissions. The average Finn has a carbon footprint of more than 10 tCO2 per year and consists of consumption (33%), traffic and travel (29%), housing (20%) and food (18%). A globally sustainable carbon footprint level would be around 1 tCO2 per year. (SITRA 2019)
How can I reduce my / my company’s carbon emissions?
The most effective ways to reduce emissions at the individual level are to reduce consumption and meat intake (or switch completely to a vegetarian diet), and to avoid air travel.
Almost all human activities unavoidably cause CO2 emissions. Although the main priority should be to avoid and reduce emissions, for example by changing operating models and reducing consumption, it is very challenging to eliminate emissions completely in today’s society. Emission offsets can be used to compensate for these remaining emissions, by reducing or sequestering the same amount of emissions elsewhere. Purchased carbon credits can be used to protect forest or plant trees in developing countries, support renewable energy production or provide energy-efficient stoves to local residents.
Is emission compensation reliable?
For compensation to actually take place, the emissions reduction must be real, permanent, additional and measurable. Additionality means that the activity in question could not have taken place without the sale of carbon credits. Permanence is intended to ensure, for example, that planted trees are not harvested after a few years. Ensuring the reality of the project guarantees that no carbon leakage will occur, i.e. that it will not increase emissions elsewhere. However, emission compensation is not entirely unproblematic. It is not possible to guarantee the permanence of operations with 100% certainty and proving additionality is challenging. For example, there is always the risk that planted trees could be destroyed by forest fire or extreme weather conditions. Compensation projects generally use a variety of buffer and overcompensation mechanisms to minimize these risks. Despite these challenges emission offsetting is clearly a better option than not to compensate.
What are the main benefits of offsetting emissions?
Carbon offsets make it possible for everyone to compensate for the CO2 emissions that they have caused. One of the benefits of offsetting is that it sets a monetary price for CO2 emissions. Thus, carbon offsets steers the individual’s behavior in a more sustainable direction. In principle, emissions should first be avoided and reduced where possible, and only then the remaining emissions should be offset. For example, if it is not possible to completely avoid air travel, emissions can be compensated for by purchasing carbon offsets equal to the emissions generated by the trip.
Planet Loves Trees
Why do PLT’s CO2 offsetting projects focus on forests?
Planet Loves Trees has focused on forest-related projects because deforestation is one of the biggest global environmental problems and because forest planting and protection have several positive impacts on climate, local populations, and biodiversity. To maximize the positive effects of compensation, our projects will focus on countries that do not yet have a binding emission reduction target. Planet Loves Trees is currently the only Finnish company to offer emission compensation without intermediaries in countries without an emission ceiling. The projects are implemented in close cooperation with the locals and respecting their needs.
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