carbon offset

noun

: an action or activity (such as the planting of trees or carbon sequestration) that compensates for the emission of carbon dioxide or other greenhouse gases to the atmosphere
A carbon offset occurs when an individual company or organization directly or indirectly (by funding projects in other locations) removes greenhouse gases from the atmosphere or prevents a certain quantity of greenhouse gases from being released. Tyson Miller, Publishers Weekly, 10 Mar. 2008
also : a quantifiable amount of such an activity that may be bought, sold, or traded especially as part of a system to reduce pollutants in the atmosphere
Purchase carbon offsets. For every pound of carbon dioxide your home releases, you can fund an environment-friendly endeavor that reduces the amount of greenhouse gases released into the air. Suze Orman, O: The Oprah Magazine, Fall 2007
When you purchase carbon offsets, you are funding a project that reduces greenhouse-gas emissions elsewhere by, for example, increasing energy efficiency, developing renewable energy, restoring forests, or sequestering carbon in soil. Al Gore, An Inconvenient Truth, 2006

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Word History

First Known Use

1990, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of carbon offset was in 1990

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Cite this Entry

“Carbon offset.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/carbon%20offset. Accessed 2 Oct. 2022.

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