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Develop Local Carbon Offset Program (Proposed)

Project History

  • 8/10/2020

    Leah Courtney and Parima Michareune, two GFX Scholars in the Women in Engineering program, worked with Meredith Moore in spring 2020 to develop a carbon offset manual for University of Illinois study abroad programs (manual attached).

  • 8/10/2020

    iSEE intern, Julija Sakutyte, and Meredith Moore have conducted preliminary research into successful local carbon offset programs, including what other institutions have implemented (summary attached).


The 2015 iCAP, chapter 8, objective 3 is, "By the end of FY18, develop a program of local or regional mission-linked verified carbon offsets, so that our purchases of offsets will also support our institutional missions."

By the end of FY18, instead of purchasing carbon offsets from global markets, we intend to make the transactions with local communities and organizations. This program will not only help our campus reach the carbon emission reduction target, but also improve the development of the local community.


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. Developing a program for such community offsets would require extensive planning, but it should be possible to complete this by the end of FY18. 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)


  • Proposed May 15, 2010
    Proposed by 2010 iCAP