Cool Earth and Carbon


Is Cool Earth a Carbon offset scheme?

No, we are much, much more. Most offset schemes match your carbon footprint to an equivalent reduction in emissions somewhere else in the world. This is usually an industrial process or a more efficient technology that is reducing waste. These offsets are done on a one-to-one basis and it could be argued that the improved efficiency would have happened anyway.

All trees represent a store of carbon. Their trunks, branches and roots are carbohydrates created by carbon dioxide breathed in, oxygen breathed out and water sucked up. Rainforest is found where growing conditions are perfect with maximum sunlight, warmth and water.

Cool Earth’s village partners have all been pressured to sell their trees for timber or ranchland, palm oil or mining. They have refused and instead work to keep the world’s most potent store of carbon and biodiversity intact. You’d think this would cost more than an offset scheme but in fact it’s an incredibly cost efficient way to keep carbon locked in.

Across all our partnerships, it costs us around £60 to protect an acre of rainforest. This figure reflects the population size, area of forest, and opportunity costs of refusing offers from loggers. An acre of rainforest stores on average 260 tonnes of carbon in the trunks, branches and roots of trees. Carbon that would be released into the atmosphere as CO2 if the trees were felled.

Given that buying carbon offsets usually costs around £8 per tonne, you can see why we’re on to a smart idea.

Carbon Mitigation with Cool Earth

We offer a direct action carbon mitigation initiative that locks up your carbon footprint for a fraction of the price.

But that’s not all. The best bit is that as well as locking in carbon, Cool Earth partnerships deliver some incredible co-benefits.



A forest protection agreement is signed at the beginning of every village partnership that agrees that Cool Earth funding will be given as long as trees are only cut for subsistence, leading to negligible forest loss. Budgets must be approved by the community as a whole and fall under one of several general spending categories including poverty, health, education, sustainable incomes and biodiversity.

This is really important, as our previous partnerships have shown that by investing in these things, communities can make more money over the long term from sustainable income streams (like coffee, cacao, and jewellery) than they would from selling their trees. This means that we can be confident that there will be negligible forest loss in Cool Earth’s partnerships whilst the communities are living – and making a living – in the area.

Our data refers to projects implemented to date. By applying our model to different local conditions, we face new challenges and gain valuable learning. Our strict monitoring and evaluation framework helps to ensure that Cool Earth partnerships are as future-proof as possible.

Read more about Cool Earth’s approach


We use the latest research on carbon storage. There is no significant variation in the type or density of forests protected in Cool Earth partnerships and the most current research suggests that 260 tonnes of carbon per acre of primary rainforest is at the lower level: most rainforest stores between 260 and 340 tonnes per acre in above-ground biomass. It’s worth pointing out that our figures don’t include soil or other below-ground carbon storage, which increases the carbon storage capacity of rainforests many times over. As no two patches of rainforest are the same, we’ve gone for a conservative estimate.

Our figures for each partnership, and our average CO2 per acre figure, come from the following research papers:

Peru: 233 (Saatchi et al (2011) PNAS)

DRC: 270 (Kearsley et al (2013) Nature Communications)

PNG: 313 (Vincent et al (2015) Austral Ecology)

Average: 272


Cool Earth doesn’t have a carbon footprint calculator but if you’d like to work out the carbon emissions you cause we can recommend the calculator developed by the Stockholm Environment Institute which can be found here.

Alternatively, we recommend the Carbon Calculator that our partners Planet First have developed to measure your business’s impact. You can download the calculator here.



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