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Develop Local Carbon Offset Program (Proposed)

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The iCAP 2020 objective 8.7 is to "Establish a local offsets program by FY24." The responsible campus unit for championing this objective is iSEE.

We are pursuing local carbon offset programs, in part to mitigate greenhouse gases (GHG) generated as a result of university air travel but primarily as a way to educate faculty and staff about air emissions.


Rather than relying exclusively on the purchase of carbon offsets from international markets, where the effect of the purchase can be somewhat intangible, the campus could develop local community offsets that are linked to its institutional missions. Such a program is being considered by Cornell University as part of its effort to accelerate its carbon neutrality goal to 2035. Cornell has suggested that options for local offsets could include energy efficiency renovations in low-income and rental properties, fuel switching to renewables such as biomass pellets for farms and rural homes, improving soil carbon storage in agricultural soils, and reducing methane sources in agricultural industries. The program could be developed by iSEE in collaboration with U of I Extension and community partners, and could leverage the efforts underway at Cornell.

This program will help improve the development of local community while reach the carbon emission goal. For example, if we buy verified carbon offsets from farmers, the funds can be paid to farmer to develop agriculture techniques which will make it more environment-friendly and produce more carbon offset reduction. Although the cost will be little more than in international market, purchasing carbon offsets locally will be more responsible for local communities. After all, the goal of carbon emission reduction is to take the responsibility of protecting the environment, not just meet the emission standard.

This concept was initially proposed in the 2010 iCAP. It said, “A system for purchasing voluntary local emissions offsets for air travel will be instituted. The University will recommend to the Board of Trustees that these offsets become required by 2016 to address the major source of transportation emissions. The purchase of offsets directed at local projects on campus could become a valuable funding stream for funding bio-restorative projects while simultaneously reducing carbon emissions.”

Website URL(s)

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Project Team

  • Primary Contact:

    Miriam Keep


  • Proposed May 15, 2010
    Proposed by 2010 iCAP