Carbon Offset FAQs

Becoming a global citizen involves not only learning about other cultures and places but also recognizing that each individual has an impact on the world. To ensure that our students’ experiences positively contribute to their host communities and to the planet, API participates in several important environmental initiatives, such as our API Gives Back projects and our carbon-offset program. API has partnered with Carbon Clear, a world leader in carbon management and one of the world’s largest providers of carbon offset credits, to offer students the chance to address the environmental effect of their study abroad travel. API and Carbon Clear work together to choose projects that students may elect to sponsor (for a minimal contribution of $15 – which API matches for each student!), and all of Carbon Clear’s projects contribute to environmental sustainability and have measurable social improvement as a primary goal.

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What is a carbon offset?

Offsetting your carbon is the act of reducing greenhouse gas emissions in one place in order to “offset” or “balance out” greenhouse gas emissions occurring somewhere else. An offset credit refers to one metric ton of carbon dioxide that has been reduced in another location through a carbon reduction project. Carbon reduction projects include things like renewable energy projects, landfill methane capture projects or even tree planting projects.

I’ve heard carbon offsets are a sham… Is this true?

Those who argue that carbon offsets are a sham generally take one of two viewpoints. The first argument is that the purchase of offsets leads us down a ‘business as usual path’, rather than making behavioral changes. In response, there is no single solution that will perfectly mitigate greenhouse gases around the globe, however, a combination of efforts will likely get us to the point that at which we need to be. Alongside many other carbon reduction initiatives, such as the passing of climate change legislation at the national level, the purchase of carbon offsets will make a real and immediate impact on the reduction of greenhouse gases now. It is certainly not the silver bullet that will solve climate change, but it is an important part of the solution. The second argument centers around the credibility of offsets. This is easily addressed by paying attention to the standards of offset credits. There are several offset standards that exist in the marketplace to ensure that only high quality offset credits are produced, which means that the credit represents a real, additional, and permanent reduction of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. As a consumer it is important to source only those offset credits that meet these high standards, including the Voluntary Carbon Standard (VCS), the Gold Standard (GS), and the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM).

What standards do Carbon Clear projects adhere to?

Carbon Clear provides carbon credits that meet the requirements of the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM), Voluntary Carbon Standard (VCS) and the Gold Standard.  It is the company’s mission to provide projects to customers that meet the highest of international standards, and provide both social and environmental benefits to the communities where those projects exist. To be considered truly legitimate, an offset credit should be: 1) ADDITIONAL – the project would not have occurred without the money generated from the offset sales; 2) VERIFIABLE – by a third party; 3) PERMANENT – the offset reductions created as a result of the project are not reversible.

Is Carbon Clear independently audited and verified?

Yes. All of Carbon Clear’s sustainable energy projects comply with independent certification standards – either the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM), the Voluntary Carbon Standard (VCS), or the Gold Standard. As a founding member of ICROA, Carbon Clear is required to comply with its Code of Practice and submit an annual compliance report for third party review. Both Carbon Clear’s carbon credit registry and financial accounts are independently reviewed on an annual basis. Where they exist, the company uses independent third-party registries to hold and retire their carbon credits.

API’s Carbon Footprint

API recently completed our first carbon footprint analysis and review with Carbon Clear to evaluate our U.S. office’s environmental impact (including staff travel, physical resources, shipping, printing, etc). For a summary of this report, click here. Further information, including future reduction goals, will be posted soon.

Further Reading

For more information on API’s green projects, visit the following links:

API’s Green Programs

If you are looking for a study abroad, intern abroad, or volunteer abroad program with a “green focus,” we have many options for you to choose from. Give us a call today at 1-800-844-4124 or email us at [email protected] for more information!

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