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Why Not Offset All The UK’s Emissions?

February 26, 2020

By Paul Homewood



I covered a Telegraph report into carbon offsetting the other day, which raised serious doubts as to whether the claimed carbon dioxide emissions savings had even been achieved.

It got me thinking though, that if they really did work, why would we simply offset the whole country’s emissions and carry on with business as usual?

Climatecare are one of the outfits offering offsets, and according to their calculator below the cost would be £7.50 per tonne CO2:



At the last count, UK emissions totalled 344 Mt, it would cost the country £2.58bn to offset.

A bargain surely, given we are already paying £11bn a year in renewable subsidies and the trillions that the Net Zero strategy is going to cost us in the next thirty years!


This is proof, of course, that carbon offsetting is in reality a meaningless, ineffective option, which does little other than assuage people’s eco-guilt and allows them to carry on enjoying their lifestyles with a clear conscience.

  1. February 26, 2020 12:02 pm

    Yes of course. Or at least enough of it to make the rest a doable thing. That is what NET zero means. It means net of CO2 sequestration credits. More info here.

  2. tom0mason permalink
    February 26, 2020 12:16 pm

    I wonder if my gaseous gastric venting amounts to the equivalent of a ton of ‘carbon’ per week?

    Pondering … (burble, burble, vripp!)

    ‘No, probably closer to 2 tons’, she says. 🙂

  3. February 26, 2020 12:53 pm

    More fantasy from the Alice in Wonderland world of man-made climate change!

  4. February 26, 2020 12:58 pm

    Reblogged this on Wolsten and commented:
    Why not offset all UK emissions for a measly £2.6B rather than pay £11B in subsidies plus the imminent astronomical costs of net zero? Because carbon offsetting is a financial scam appealing only to virtue signalling environmentalists.

    • Mack permalink
      February 26, 2020 1:18 pm

      Indeed, straight out of the medieval indulgences playbook. Obviously, we deniers are going straight to hell for eternity but, having paid a few bob to the green priesthood, the true believers and lukewarmers can atone for their carbon sins and spend just short period on the purgatorial naughty step before feeling nice and fluffy about themselves again. Lovely.

  5. Mad Mike permalink
    February 26, 2020 1:02 pm

    Thats the whole point of off setting isn’t it. Making it seem like CO2 emissions to zero by 2050 will be a breeze and not much of an interference to our lifestyles. What a shock it will be when reality hits.

  6. GeoffB permalink
    February 26, 2020 1:09 pm

    Carbon offsetting is another scam, just like shipping all our waste to the third world, probably run by Mafia like organisations.

    • February 26, 2020 1:35 pm

      EA say that when barriers are overtopped that isNOT A FAILURE,
      … cos they are designed to stop full high level coming into the town
      …And letting a couple of inches into the streets is part of that.
      The latest Bewdley photos show they are doing that job of keeping the vast majority of water inside the river and out of the streets.

      • Teaef permalink
        February 26, 2020 4:14 pm

        Ironbridge flood barriers have failed because of poor design. Not overtopped, but pushed backwards by the force of the water. Water now penetrating underneath.

      • February 26, 2020 6:00 pm

        It’s odd that the Severn is so high, when the Teme which passes through Ludlow where I live has its source close to the Severn source in the Kerry ridgeway in Powys. But the Teme has dropped to normal high winter levels and the floods dispersed a week ago, so presumably something other than just rainfall is at work in the Severn. Shrewsbury is no stranger to floods, and there have been numerous severe flooding events there over the last hundred years. That’s why they moved Shrewsbury Town’s ground (The Gay Meadow no less) from the Riverside to the outskirts some time ago.

      • Ivan permalink
        February 27, 2020 12:31 pm

        The Severn’s catchment (W of Shrewsbury) is a much more extensive part of mid-Wales than the Teme. The scale is barely comparable. Lake Vyrnwy, built in the 1880s, has as main purpose water supply to Liverpool and provides water for about 900,000 people – 230,000 m3 per day. We can thus understand the large catchment potential of just Vyrnwy, and the potential for water arriving into this catchment when there is persistent rain. Vyrnwy additionally provides flow control on the Severn and helps manage flooding both through both its large impoundment capacity and the large offtake to populations in the NW.

        But additionally the main branch of the Severn penetrates far west into the Cambrian mountains west of Newtown, where there is another large reservoir, Clywedog, whose main purpose is flow control on the Severn.

        Once these reservoirs are full, their flow control power runs out. At least the flooding is less extensive than it would have been without their holding capacity and the large water supply offtake of Vyrnwy at least.

  7. Coeur de Lion permalink
    February 26, 2020 1:41 pm

    Saplings take a couple of decades to start to sequester CO2 ( not ‘carbon’), meaningfully, yeah? Do the saplings come from a garden centre, pepiniiere? Why not leave them there? Or if those little sticks one sees shrouded in plastic with 50% failure then add another decade. We’ll all be burnt to a crisp by then .

  8. Broadlands permalink
    February 26, 2020 1:49 pm

    “At the last count, UK emissions totalled 344 Mt, it would cost the country £2.58bn to offset.”

    Where do these CO2 emissions go after they are paid for?

  9. February 26, 2020 1:58 pm

    Why are carbon offsets like gold? Because the trade in them easily exceeds the actual amount in existence.

  10. Bertie permalink
    February 26, 2020 2:17 pm

    Forgive my ignorance, but I know that there are many posters on here qualified to explain a basic concept to me (arts rather than science).
    It’s the word EMISSIONS which I read ALL the time without understanding either what they are or – more pertinently – how they are calculated. It would appear that EVERY aspect of life creates a CO2 emission of some sort (other than breathing I guess). How can this be? And who quantifies it?
    Any sort of help appreciated. xx

    • February 26, 2020 2:20 pm

      Try here to start with.

    • dave permalink
      February 26, 2020 4:09 pm

      “…other than breathing…”

      Especially when you breath.

      When you breath, the inhaled air contains 0.04% carbon dioxide and the exhaled air 4% carbon dioxide. An average human therefore emits (adds to the atmosphere) about* half a ton of carbon dioxide a year, in exchange for oxygen to be used up in his metabolism.

      Of course, the farmer has arranged it so that – for each human – other organisms are ready to abstract half a ton of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere** to build up a net amount of food for that human to eat.

      * The molecular mass of oxygen is 32 units while the molecular mass of carbon dioxide is 44.

      **With the help of sunlight. And while replenishing the oxygen in the atmosphere.

      • Chaswarnertoo permalink
        February 26, 2020 10:25 pm

        Yep. Rescue breaths ( kiss of life) are 40,000 ppm……..
        For the Arts Grads. There is no such thing as carbon emissions.

      • Mike Ellwood permalink
        March 3, 2020 10:17 am

        Fortunately (as you know), there is still plenty of oxygen and nitrogen left in exhaled breath, otherwise the kiss of life might be less successful.

    • February 26, 2020 4:52 pm

      As is with all of climate gospel, only those emissions humans put in the air are bad. Nature is benevolent and kind and would never hurt us, therefore, it does not count. Any burning of fossil fuels, any CO2 and methane from farm animals (humans raise those so these are evil), any fires that humans set, etc all count. There’s a secret mathematical formula to calculate emissions based on whatever the whim of the day is for determining output. If there were no humans, the earth’s climate would remain forever idyllic, having reached equilibrium until the parasitic humans ruined that. This is the word of Gaia.

      (Do I seriously need a /sarc tag?)

    • Derek Reynolds permalink
      February 26, 2020 8:47 pm

      Hi Bertie,
      Along with the Wikipedia link, you might like to read these:
      View at

      Further, when people speak of emissions, they are usually speaking of the man made emissions (which incorporate CO2 and which is erroneously labelled ‘carbon’, but really they mean Carbon Dioxide) it becomes common practice for most folk to believe that ALL CO2 is produced by mankind. This is far from so.

      Of all the CO2 in the Earths atmosphere which amounts to 0.04%, only approximately 3% of that 0.04% is produced by man. The rest, is emitted by nature in its natural cycle whereby when the planet is heated by the Sun, the Oceans and the land give off CO2, and when they cool, absorb CO2.

      Whilst some CO2 retains some warmth when in the atmosphere, much is radiated to space – see Dr. Roy Spencer’s link above.

  11. Ian Cook permalink
    February 26, 2020 2:48 pm

    I’d keep the 2.5 billion as well and have a clear conscience. I am aware that the Earth is dynamic and stuff happens in a way and on a scale we are unable to understand or model. It warms up, it cools down. We could do with incentivising industry to get rid of actual pollution (rather than ordering them to adopt unsuitable, immature technologies). But then, we can’t even get on top of packaging issues, so what hope, eh? When I was a youngster, the binmen, came round the back of the house, collected the single bin, emptied into their truck and brought the bin back. Not throwing it roughly in the right direction, from some distance. One bin, family of four. Just sayin’, kale eaters.

  12. It doesn't add up... permalink
    February 26, 2020 2:48 pm

    Better still, we could take it out of the aid budget. After all, much of it ends up in such things as solar schemes in India.

  13. dennisambler permalink
    February 26, 2020 3:15 pm


  14. Derek Reynolds permalink
    February 26, 2020 9:09 pm

    Using the emissions calculator in Pauls link, I entered my yearly car mileage to work out how many tonnes of CO2 I would produce in one year. It works out at 5.83 tonnes.

    If I plant one tree (which absorbs 48lbs of CO2 in one year) it would take 233.2yrs to offset my vehicles emissions produced in one year. So if I plant 233 trees, I would offset one years CO2 emissions. Except that I would have to plant 233 trees every year.

    Now consider the other 20 million motorists who would be needing to offset their CO2 emissions. That would be 4,660,000,000 trees to be planted every year. Disregarding the cost and time involved, where would these trees be planted? And this is just in the UK.

    • February 26, 2020 10:23 pm

      I think their numbers are a tad optimistic.

      Engineering toolbox says density of pine is c. 500kg/cubic metre. [Dry.]

      My old woodland ecology textbook has yield of a good Scots pine plantation at 6.39 cubic metres/ha/yr.

      Allowing 1000 trees per ha [3 metre spacing], that is c. 3.2 kg/tree/yr, or 7 old-fashioned pounds.

      Now, for 30-year-old trees, you could be looking at 6 kg/tree/yr, call it 14 lbs/tree/yr.

      Not the 48 lbs/tree/yr as promised. [How likely is it that a sapling will put on 22 kg/yr?]

      • dave permalink
        February 27, 2020 9:01 am

        Everything in most people’s calculations is out by a factor of two.

        If you put a ton of CO2 into the air, one half-ton will be in the mixed upper part of the ocean* within a matter of months; and so the actual addition in the air is a half-ton. Conversely if you extract a ton from the air, and sequester it in some way, a half-ton will escape from the ocean into the air.* To reduce the existing “excess” of CO2 back to “normal” you will have to do your work twice.

        *Of course, I am not talking about any particular ton; I am just illustrating the various balances in a dynamic process.

        **About a hundred meters deep, after winter mixing.

        Almost all of the original ton WILL EVENTUALLY be absorbed into the deeper ocean, but to get rid of that second half-ton in the air takes centuries. Every year, some one-thousandth of the old, cold, deep water, with the impress of historic CO2 conditions, up-wells to the surface, to present a new opportunity for CO2 to be dissolved out of the air to the extent required by current conditions, and then eventually to sink in polar regions – the thermohaline circulation.

      • February 27, 2020 9:24 am

        One thing I was trying to get a number on a few years ago is the proportion of carbon fixed by phytoplankton in the upper ocean that makes its way to deep sediment, where it is effectively out of the game until subduction and volcanism brings it back.

        This was quite hard to discover. From memory, when my attention moved onto other things I had one percent of fixed C reaching deep sediment. This was a ratio that I instinctively felt was too low, but have not had time to revisit.

        The question that occurs to me now is to what extent primary productivity by phytoplankton is limited by the partial pressure of CO2 [obviously this is limited most of the time rather by trace nutrients and in higher latitudes, sunlight].

      • dave permalink
        February 27, 2020 11:27 am


        It is complicated, not least because the turnover (i.e. ‘flows’) of carbon in the various parts of the food web (i.e. ‘stocks’) in the upper sea is really rapid.
        It is a plankton eat plankton world there.

        Carbon is, indeed, a ‘limiting factor,’ in the jargon of ecology. That is why much of the upper ocean is almost a desert.

        It has recently been discovered that the amount of mesopelagic fish (e.g. ‘bristlemouths’ and the like) is possibly ten times greater than previously thought. Now, these are the creatures which really cycle carbon into the deep. For, in a daily cycle, they eat plankton at the surface and then sink down and poop several hundred feet down.

        It used to be thought- on the basis of tenuous, round-about calculations – that the carbon in two billion tons of carbon dioxide was sent down every year. I think we may have to double that amount.

    • Derek Reynolds permalink
      February 27, 2020 10:53 am

      Thoughtful replies, thanks.
      For the record, the details I put in for the car was 18,000miles annually doing 31mpg.
      Elsewhere I gleaned that a tree would absorb 48lbs of CO2 in one year:

      Q: How many trees are need to absorb 1 ton of carbon dioxide?

      Ans: A tree can absorb as much as 48 pounds of carbon dioxide per year. It takes 40 years for one tree to absorb 1 ton of carbon dioxide. A half an acre of trees could absorb 1 ton in approximately 1 year.

  15. Broadlands permalink
    February 27, 2020 6:52 pm

    With respect to Jit’s query: “…the proportion of carbon fixed by phytoplankton in the upper ocean that makes its way to deep sediment, where it is effectively out of the game until subduction and volcanism brings it back.”

    Very little of the organic primary productivity ever makes it to the bottom (it’s food). And even less gets below the sediment-water interface to become “fossil fuel”. On its way down almost all of it is rapidly recycled back to CO2 by food chain oxidative respiration. Sediment trap studies reveal that just 10% reaches 200 meters and only ~1% gets below 4000 m. (Suess, 1980). Annual marine burial rates have been estimated at 0.03% for the open ocean (Berger et al.,1989). Not much help for any climatically meaningful sequestration of CO2. The CO2 tied up in organic carbon must be buried, and buried below the sediment-water interface of further anaerobic recycling, to make an impact… long term. It is the biologically sequestered carbonates that make up the other carbon sink. In the case of phytoplankton it is the calcitic coccoliths. Diatoms are silica and they take no carbon to the bottom.

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