Since the environment doesn’t care how the goal is achieved, a cap and trade permit offers additional options in meeting GHG reduction goals. As far as the earth’s climate is concerned, it is the net level of carbon emissions that create an impact. So, removing carbon from the atmosphere “offsets” carbon emissions. As far at the atmosphere is concerned, this is equivalent to reducing emissions. Both removals and additional reductions will improve the net level.
Activities that count as offsetting activities in Canada include: carbon sequestration projects (removal), clean energy projects (reduction), projects transforming greenhouse gases (GHGs) into less harmful compounds (reduction), and energy efficiency projects (reduction).
The key to offset projects having a positive impact is to consider only those projects that would not otherwise occur without offsets income. These offset projects MUST be “additional” to business as usual activities if they are to truly “offset” GHG emissions from other sources (BC GHG Reduction Targets Act, 2007).