Duke Plans Carbon Offsets for 5% of Emissions to Reach Net Zero

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Duke Energy Corp. Chief Executive Officer Lynn Good said the company plans to compensate for 5% of its greenhouse gas emissions through carbon offsets and credits to meet its goal of being net zero by 2050.

That figure may shift with changes in technology, federal policy or offset markets, Good said Wednesday at a Reuters energy transition conference. “As we sit here today, we do see a need for 5% offsets,” she said.

Many of the biggest U.S. power companies have pledged to reach net zero carbon emissions by 2050 but also acknowledge that they’ll need yet-to-be developed clean power sources or carbon offsets to fulfill that goal. Good’s statements Wednesday were a rare example of a power company being specific about the extent to which it would lean on offsets.

Carbon offsets are promissory notes to remove a certain amount of greenhouse gases from the air to compensate for emissions occurring elsewhere. But most available for purchase now end up overestimating metrics such as the number of trees preserved or taking credit for renewable projects that would have been built anyway. Credits that actually remove carbon dioxide from the air remain too expensive for most companies to actually buy.

Good also questioned President Joe Biden’s goal of a carbon-free power sector by 2035, noting that the Charlotte, North Carolina-based utility will need technology that’s not yet available to get beyond a 70% reduction in emissions.

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