Carbon Credits Cost Less Than You May Think

Guess how much it costs in carbon credits to offset the carbon impact of a 15-person, 3-day company gathering (with travel from across the country) in Austin, Texas. Consider the carbon impact of the full event: flights, lodging, meals and ground transportation for 15 people. 

Go on, guess: What kind of check for carbon credits would one have to write to declare at the onset of such a gathering that the entire event had been rendered carbon net neutral? Think of the first dollar figure that comes to mind and hold it there.

The actual figure may surprise you. But first, some backstory: 

We were planning that company offsite. A digital agency with a remote workforce located across the country, we had discovered that an annual face-to-face gathering delivered incredible value in terms of connecting, building camaraderie and working better together long-term.

One of the things holding us back (other than the direct expense) was the increasing realization that putting that many airline miles into an atmosphere increasingly loaded with greenhouse gasses was not something to be taken lightly. Merely a year or two ago, that notion would have crossed our mind, but wouldn’t have taken forefront. Now, with the advent of flight shame and a broader realization that getting right with carbon should be a priority in the face of the climate crisis, we began looking for ways to offset the impact of our gathering. 

Enter Wolf Lichtenstein of Evergreen Carbon. We met at a Bloomberg Sustainability Summit event in Seattle, where I learned that Wolf helps companies with just these kinds of calculations. I explained the scenario and asked him to do a back-of-the-napkin calculation so I could at least know how many zeroes were on the end of it, and know if it was even within the realm of possibility. 

I had no idea what the offsets would cost, but decided that if it was less than $5,000 we would go ahead and pay to offset the trip. Other agency owners I talked to suspected that offsets for such a scenario would run far higher, more in the $25,000 range. 

Wolf’s back-of-the-napkin estimate to offset the carbon impact of the entire trip?


28 metric tonnes of carbon. Assuming $10 per credit to offset each metric tonne. A rough estimate pending more detailed analysis, sure, but still I think I shouted: 

“$280? Are you kidding me? Why isn’t everyone buying carbon offsets?”

Well now they can. Welcome to Carbon Credit Cart.