Definition of carbon debt in US English:

carbon debt


  • The imbalance between the carbon footprint of a particular country, group, person, etc. and any carbon offsetting that has been agreed or undertaken to counteract this.

    ‘burning biomass releases carbon dioxide instantly, while repaying that carbon debt through new tree growth takes years’
    • ‘Because there are major costs associated with climate change, in particular for poor countries, yet the benefits of using the fossil fuels were primarily incurred by wealthy nations, the idea of a carbon debt has become a significant discussion point at climate negotiations.’
    • ‘The carbon debts the rich countries owe the poor for polluting the world's atmosphere far exceed poor country financial debts.’
    • ‘The worst source - palm oil displacing tropical rainforest growing in peat - invokes a carbon debt of some 840 years.’
    • ‘Even when you produce ethanol from maize grown on "rested" arable land, it takes 48 years to repay the carbon debt.’
    • ‘Even the most productive source - sugar cane grown in the scrubby savannahs of central Brazil - creates a carbon debt which takes 17 years to repay.’
    • ‘This time Britain's carbon debt will be repaid through grants to projects in South Africa such as installing solar water heaters, insulation and low-energy lightbulbs in housing schemes in Cape Town.’
    • ‘A fundamental obstacle throughout negotiations lay in the question of how much the western world, which has polluted its way to prosperity, should consider itself in "carbon debt" to countries that have yet to realise their industrial potential.’
    • ‘And that incurs a carbon debt that takes about 100 years to pay back.’
    • ‘Such unequal development has been paid for, in large part, by the creation of an enormous ecological or carbon debt, which has taken the form of global climatic upheaval.’
    • ‘That would require rich, industrialized nations to accept their carbon debt and historic responsibility.’
    • ‘Dr Smith is expected to be challenged by farmers tomorrow on why they are being asked to pay part of the "carbon debt" incurred by their livestock, when Australia has exempted its own farmers from accountability.’
    • ‘The rich countries' carbon debt is now the clearest argument for conventional debt cancellation, but should also be linked to a commitment to tackling climate change built on the foundations of equity.’
    • ‘The claim of a carbon debt is backed up in a study by the environmental protection agency.’
    • ‘A separate study by the nonpartisan Congressional budget office says, as rain forest and grasslands are converted to farm land, that carbon debt worsens because crops don't absorb as much carbon from the air.’
    • ‘Growing switchgrass, one of the new papers in Science shows, creates a carbon debt of 52 years.’
    • ‘Tell them your personal habits and you can repay your carbon debts online, or even pay off someone else's carbon debts as a gift instead.’
    • ‘It's simple: if you want to get a flight, you should also have to pay the cost of the carbon debt you are building up by paying for trees in Africa.’
    • ‘And while the demand for electricity is a primary concern, a secondary result of the explosion of internet use is that the computer industry's carbon debt is increasing drastically.’