While researching ways to offset the CO2 footprint of iComp's business, I could not find any clear answer to the question if certain "voluntary" CO2-offset projects actually capture more carbon than the land would do anyway if it would be left alone. The best way to describe the situation is that CO2-certificate does not equal CO2-certificate. While researching the topic, it almost seemed to me like all these voluntary projects, which are legally allowed to issue CO2 certificates, are mainly made to divert attention from the European Emissions Trading Scheme: This is where selected CO2-intensive industries MUST buy their CO2 allowances, but the general public is excluded from participating in that market by multiple hurdles.
Compensators e.V. was founded in 2006 by scientists of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) as a charitable non-profit organization with the purpose of reducing surplus carbon emission allowances from the European Emissions Trading Scheme. Since then, they have been offering individuals, companies, and NGOs an efficient and transparent way to offset their carbon footprint on this "real CO2 certificate market" - hence the headline "Hack The System!", as this lets anybody take part in real EU CO2 certificate trading. Compensators.org have been providing education and awareness on emissions trading as the primary climate protection instrument in Europe.
With my inconclusive research about other potentially CO2-negataive projects mentioned above, I see compensators.org as the smartest way to offset CO2 emissions, as only this will increase the price of CO2 emissions and accelerate the shift to 100% renewable energy, which ultimately will benefit the whole European population with lower energy prices than we have today.