Insetting or carbon offsetting?

Aerial view of factory scape at sunset

Climate change is one of the biggest challenges facing humanity in the 21st century. As the world grapples with the effects of global warming, there has been increasing interest in finding ways to mitigate its impact. Two popular strategies that have emerged in recent years are offsetting and insetting. While both are aimed at reducing carbon emissions, they differ in important ways. In this article, we will explore the differences between offsetting and insetting and their respective advantages and disadvantages.


Offsetting involves reducing carbon emissions by investing in projects that reduce emissions elsewhere. For example, a company might purchase carbon credits to offset its own emissions by funding renewable energy projects or reforestation programs in developing countries. Offsetting is typically done through a market-based system, where carbon credits are bought and sold like commodities.

One advantage of offsetting is that it allows companies to take immediate action to reduce their carbon footprint, even if they are unable to reduce their emissions directly. Offset projects can also help to support sustainable development in developing countries, by providing funds for clean energy projects or forest conservation.
However, offsetting has been criticised for being too focused on short-term solutions and for allowing companies to continue emitting carbon without actually reducing their own emissions. Some offset projects have also been criticised for being of questionable quality or for not actually reducing emissions as much as claimed.


Insetting, on the other hand, involves reducing carbon emissions by investing in projects that directly benefit the local community and environment. For example, a company might support reforestation efforts in its local area or invest in energy efficiency measures in its own operations. Unlike offsetting, insetting is focused on reducing emissions within the company’s own operations or local community.

One advantage of insetting is that it can lead to more sustainable practices within the company, which can lead to long-term reductions in emissions. Insetting can also help to build resilience in local communities, by improving access to clean energy or protecting natural resources.
However, insetting can be more difficult to implement than offsetting, particularly for companies that operate in areas where emissions reduction projects are less readily available. Insetting can also be more costly in the short-term, as it requires more investment in local projects.


Offsetting and insetting are two approaches to reducing carbon emissions that have become increasingly popular in recent years. While both have their advantages and disadvantages, they differ in their focus and approach. Offsetting is focused on reducing emissions elsewhere, while insetting is focused on reducing emissions within the company’s own operations or local community. Ultimately, the choice between offsetting and insetting will depend on a company’s goals, resources, and circumstances. Both approaches can play an important role in addressing the challenges of climate change, but it is important to carefully consider the benefits and limitations of each.