A carbon offset compensates for CO2 (or other greenhouse gas) emissions by funding emission reduction elsewhere. Using offset schemes, individuals and organizations can invest in diverse environmental projects that help combat climate change, such as
- renewable energy research and production,
- reforestation and prevention of deforestation,
- direct carbon capture, and so on.
Carbon offsetting can be voluntary or accomplished by compliance – when businesses must buy offsets to comply with legal requirements and balance out their emissions.
The aviation industry is one of the main sources of greenhouse gasses, so IATA has committed to going net zero by 2050. After ICAO adopted a resolution establishing the Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation (CORSIA) that requires airlines to take responsibility for the increase of their carbon footprint, the aviation industry began transitioning from voluntary to compliance offsetting.
Many airlines also inform their passengers of the carbon footprint of their flights, allow them to choose a more sustainable option, and/or participate in offsetting programs.