Thursday, 30 November 2006

The Fifth Fuel

The main fuels used to produce our electricity are coal, natural gas, nuclear, and renewables like wind and hydropower.

Since burning coal and natural gas releases CO2, and nuclear has its own long term problems, we always encourage people to get their electricity from the fourth fuel - renewables. But there's not enough renewable power available for all of Britain's needs. Fortunately, there is another alternative.

Energy efficiency is sometimes referred to as the "fifth fuel". If you can light your home, run your appliances, and drive your car more efficiently, then you need less of the dirty stuff - and can reduce your carbon footprint. Take a look here and at previous blog posts for some tips to get you started.

Efficiency can help you reduce your CO2 emissions while maintaining a modern lifestyle. For your remaining carbon emissions, there is an offset package from Carbon Clear.

(Carbon Clear Homepage)

Friday, 17 November 2006

World Bank Urges More Carbon Finance for Africa

World Bank carbon markets coordinator Karan Capoor criticised large carbon brokers for failing to invest in projects that help the poorest people in Africa.

Most large carbon finance transactions in the developing world have focused on India and China, and those that have taken place in Africa have focused on South Africa and Egypt.

Said Capoor: "We believe this unnecessarily penalises the poorest people in the poorest countries in the world, and we would urge policymakers to look at that..."

Thursday, 16 November 2006

Share The Love, Part 2

In our last post, we talked about a quick and easy way to cut your personal carbon footprint: more people in a car means lower emissions per person. After all, that's why buses and trains full of passengers are more eco-friendly than driving. But when the bus or train isn't convenient, you're back in your car.

What can you do if your next door neighbour doesn't need to go where you're driving? Simple: just find someone who does. That's where Freewheelers come in.

Freewheelers' website has a neat summary of their goal: "The aim of Freewheelers is to reduce pollution by reducing car usage. By linking drivers and passengers to share the cost of travel it also saves you money."

Here's how it works. First, signup - it only takes 30 seconds. Then click on the name of the town you're in or your destination. A list will appear of all the vehicles with a matching itinerary and space for passengers. For example, you may find someone who does the same daily commute as you from Bath to Oxford. Get in contact via the site, make sure you're happy with the person with whom you're travelling, and you're off!

I did ridesharing like this when I lived in California and found it a great way to save time and motoring expenses. It's also a good way to reduce your personal CO2 emissions.

(Carbon Clear Homepage)

Tuesday, 14 November 2006

UK Parties Compete to Offer Climate Change Bills

Britain's Labour government is preparing to announce a series of measures to help fight climate change, and will introduce a formal bill into Parliament next year. Not to be outdone, the opposition Conservative Party is offerring its own proposals.

"The plans are an environmentalist's dream. Sixty per cent cuts in emissions by 2050, rolling annual targets policed by independent commissioners and yearly reports to parliament on a carbon budget."

Monday, 13 November 2006

Share The Love

While walking down the road the other day, I suddenly found myself engulfed in fumes from a passing bus. It seems hard to believe such a polluting vehicle could be part of a low-carbon lifestyle, doesn't it?

The fact is, buses and trains get very low fuel economy compared to passenger cars. Where they win is by carrying a lot of passengers, so the fuel use or pollution per passenger is quite small. The typical car only has one occupant, so if you're in your car alone, you're responsible for every passenger-mile of pollution.

One way to change this situation is to carry more passengers. Traveling 5,000 miles in a medium car might result in 1.5 tonnes of personal CO2 pollution, while covering that same distance by rail would only result in 0.32 tonnes. But if you had three passengers in your car, the CO2 pollution per person would only be 0.38 tonnes - quite close to what you get on the train.

Four people in a hybrid car would result in 0.22 tonnes per person - considerably less than taking the train.

It probably doesn't make sense to round up the neighbors to join you everytime you need to drive into town. Buses and trains have an important role to play. But if you can schedule your car journeys so that you and your neighbours travel together once in a while, you can dramatically reduce your carbon footprint. And make some new friends at the same time. And of course, you can offset all your remaining emissions with a Carbon Clear package.

(Carbon Clear Homepage)

Saturday, 11 November 2006

Reduce What You Can - Right From Your Rooftop

Today I joined men across the country in a time honoured tradition - wandering the aisles of my local B&Q home improvement store.

Their latest offering is a small rooftop wind turbine. "Generate Your Own Renewable Energy!" reads the sign over the in-store display.

This is great news - a way to reduce your carbon footprint, save money, and reduce your dependence on the electric grid. Here's how:

The B&Q wind turbine can generate 1,000 watts of power, but the wind doesn't blow that regularly in most places. Over the course of a year it might average a fifth of this. The list price is £1498, and the brochure claims you may be eligible for a 30% subsidy. So here's how the numbers work out:

At average UK electricity rates, the turbine will cut your electricity bill by £100 a year, and reduce CO2 emissions by 0.75 tonnes, 14% of your household total. That's a great start on the way to a low-carbon economy. And the money you save is enough to offset your remaining CO2 emissions with cash left for a night out on the town.

Monday, 6 November 2006

UN Report: Africa Most At Risk From Climate Change

The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) has just released a report showing that Africa may be hardest hit by climate change impacts. The report, timed to coincide with the week-long climate change summit in Nairobi, highlights a range of risks, including:

- inundation of major cities following sea level rise;
- increased drought and soil degradation on a continent where 70% off people work in agriculture;
- increased stress on sensitive animal and plant habitats.

Says UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner:

"Climate change is underway and the international community must respond by offering well targeted assistance to those countries in the front-line which are facing increasing impacts such as extreme droughts and floods and threats to infrastructure from phenomena like rising sea levels"

The report stresses that adaptation to these effects must go hand-in-hand with ongoing efforts to reduce global CO2 emissions.

(...editorial comment...)

At Carbon Clear, we feel that initiatives like our community tree-planting projects in Tanzania and India, which help local people protect degraded soils while capturing CO2, are an important part of this effort. By improving livelihoods we can help strengthen the resilience of local communities at the same time that we're helping to reduce global CO2 emissions.

Climate Change: Simple Things You Can Do

Newspapers are full of articles about the Stern Report on the costs of climate change. The headlines focus on the bad news - that left unchecked, climate change impacts could throw us into a global recession.

But there is some good news in the 700 page report, too. Here's how UK Environment Minister David Milliband sees it:

"The second half of his message is that the technology does exist, the financing, public and private, does exist, and the international mechanisms also exist to get to grips with this problem."

What can you do to help? We've talked about a lot of quite painless measures before (scroll down the blog to see the details):

- Switch to a green electricity supplier (save 1.4 tonnes of CO2);
- Switch off any appliances that are on standby (save 0.35 tonnes and £45);
- Install a wind turbine and run your electric meter in reverse;
- Drive at 65mph instead of 75mph on the highway (save 0.20 tonnes and £80);
- Try to work from home one day each month (save 0.10 tonnes and £40).

These measures can reduce total emissions by over 20%, and save you money. For those activities you can't avoid, there's an offset package from Carbon Clear. If you make some basic reductions at home, you can save enough money to offset the rest and still come out ahead.

We will invest in outside emissions reductions to balance out your unavoidable climate change pollution. Our projects reduce emissions while improving the quality of life in some of the developing country communities most vulnerable to climate change impacts.

So go climate-neutral today - by doing what you can at home and by clearing the rest with a Carbon Clear package.

(Carbon Clear Homepage)

Saturday, 4 November 2006

Remember, Remember the 4th of November

This coming week, the good and great from around the world will meet in Nairobi to evaluate their progress on fighting climate change and plan what comes next.

A little closer to home, a coalition of British NGOs is organising a rally to urge UK ministers to reduce national emissions by 3% every year.

The government response to this NGO pressure has been cautious. While a 3% reduction sounds reasonable, it becomes harder when both population and the economy are growing. Rising incomes and rising numbers means more homes, more travel, more consumer goods, more communication. Ministers, already worried about international competitiveness and jobs, don't want to take unilateral action if it puts British companies at a disadvantage against overseas rivals.

But they should not be too cautious. We need to cut emissions by 60% by 2050 in order to stave off the worst effects of climate change. Standing still is not an option; we need to transition to a low-carbon economy. The majority of big corporations around the world already accept that emissions must be cut- they're just waiting for a clear and stable regulatory framework so they can make rational long-term decisions. Companies like GE, Virgin, and HSBC have shown that they can find creative ways to reduce CO2 emissions while growing their business. Let's encourage them to do more.

In the days after November 4th, the UK and governments around the world have an opportunity to reaffirm their commitment to the Kyoto Protocol and set a clear timeline for the next round of global CO2 emissions reductions targets.

And all of us can also reaffirm their commitment to a low-carbon lifestyle by redudcing our own carbon footprint - through reductions at home and offsets for what remains.

Let's make the 4th of November a day to remember.

(*With apologies to Guy Fawkes.)

(Carbon Clear homepage)

Wednesday, 1 November 2006

Carbon Trading on the Rise

The Financial Times reports Morgan Stanley has joined the growing legion of corporations who want to play a role in the fight against climate change. The company announced that it plans to invest $3 billion (£1.6 billion) into carbon markets.

The corporate world is helping to drive the growth of the sector, which could be worth $1 trillion (£529 billion) within five years of an international agreement. More and more businesses are paying attention:

"The prospect of building an international consensus...appeared to strengthen as Citigroup, the world's largest bank by market value, said in a research note that carbon trading was almost certainly going to become the most important weapon in combating global warming, including in the US."