Carbon offset companies sell you trees, that will absorb CO2 from
the atmosphere for as long as the trees are alive. This is of cause
a good thing, but does not equate to being carbon neutral. Young
trees absorb little carbon, but the carbon absorption rate accelerates
as the trees grow older and matures.
Hence, when the carbon offset
companies claim that an activity generating 1100 kg (1.1 ton) of CO2
can be made carbon neutral by purchasing 1 tree, the activity is firstcarbon neutral after a very long time - assuming that the tree survives
We therefore have a delay before the carbon neutral
state is achieved. If the activity generating 1100 kg of CO2 is repeated
the following year and another tree planted, and so on, we actually
find that there over a 100 year period is a net gain of CO2. Carbon
emissions will continue to rise because the trees are unable
to keep up with the level of emissions.
Carbon-info.org has developed
a model that illustrates this point. If a person produces 1100
kg of CO2 each year during a 100 year period, and each year purchases
a tree (as calculated by carbon offset companies) to absorb the carbon
dioxide, there will actually over the 100 year period be a net gain
of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Not exactly carbon neutral!