Wednesday, 27 December 2006

Looking Back...and Forward

2006, like the last several years before it, was one of the hottest on record. It was the year the first inhabitated island disappeared beneath rising seas. It was the year when people began to realise we may lose the polar bears in the near future.

2006, then, was a bad year for the climate.

But it was also the year that An Inconvenient Truth became one of the most-watched documentary films of all time. 2006 was the year that California - synonymous with car-centred living - passed landmark climate change legislation. It was the year that UK politicians strove to outdo one another with their concern about climate change. It was the year that carbon offsets made the news.

In 2006, "carbon neutral" became the Oxford American Dictionary's Word of the Year.

2006, then, was a good year for the climate. Fighting global warming is no longer a fringe issue. More and more of us are coming together to , and to press government and to take action.

At Carbon Clear, we're looking forward to 2007 as the year when we all start to turn the tide on climate change. We hope you'll join in.

(Carbon Clear Homepage)

Rising Seas Claim First Inhabited Island

The Independent reports that the island of Lohachara, off the Bay of Bengal, has disappeared from satellite images. This is the first recorded instance of an inhabited island disappearing beneath the waves.

Refugees from the vanished Lohachara island and the disappearing Ghoramara island have fled to Sagar, but this island has already lost 7,500 acres of land to the sea. In all, a dozen islands, home to 70,000 people, are in danger of being submerged by the rising seas.

Tuesday, 19 December 2006

Location, Location, Location

A few months ago we talked about all the local benefits our tree planting projects provide for communities in developing countries: slowing the spread of deserts, providing fruits and medicines, and putting nutrients back into the soil. Of course, it's always useful to remember the climate benefits.

Deforestation is responsible for nearly 20% of the world's greenhouse gas emissions. That's 1.4 BILLION tonnes in 2005. So at Carbon Clear, we support efforts to slow and reverse deforestation. That includes projects that prevent people from cutting down trees as well as responsible, carefully chosen projects that plant new trees in developing countries. After all, tree planting has already been approved as a carbon offset approach under the Kyoto Protocol's "Clean Development Mechanism".

Not all tree planting projects are created equal - location matters a lot. A recent study by climate scientists Ken Caldeira and Govindasamy Bala showed that planting trees near the equator provides greater climate benefit than planting in northern countries, because the leaves of new trees planted in the north trap relatively more of the sun's heat.

"Our study shows that tropical forests are very beneficial to the climate because they take up carbon and increase cloudiness, which in turn helps cool the planet," explained Dr Bala

On the other hand, says Bala, " the so-called mid-latitude region where the United States is located and majority of European countries are located, the climate benefits of planting will be nearly zero...In fact, planting more trees in high latitudes could be counterproductive from a climate perspective."

All our current and planned community-based tree planting projects are on or close to the equator, thus maximising the location-based carbon benefit that Bala and Caldeira document. And as always, we focus on projects that provide social and economic benefits to participating communities at the same time they're absorbing CO2 from the atmosphere.

(Carbon Clear Homepage)

Tuesday, 5 December 2006

A Carbon Clear Winter

One of the easiest ways to slash your household carbon emissions is to switch to a green electricity provider, and we urge all our customers to make the switch. For the average household, that's 1.4 tonnes taken care of.

Next comes your gas emissions, all 3.9 tonnes. Some moves, like turning down your thermostat and insulating your house can save you money and reduce some emissions by a few percent. But let's face it - it can get cold in winter. Three-fourths of the UK's natural gas use occurs during the colder months, and it will be difficult to do without heat and hot water this winter.

At Carbon Clear, we don't think fighting climate change means you have to sit in the cold and the dark. We urge people to reduce what emissions they can at home, and use offsets to cancel out any unavoidable climate pollution that remains. Our household gas offset helps people who've already made the switch to green electricity enjoy a Carbon Clear winter.

(Carbon Clear Homepage)

Shoppers' Paradise

In recent days the dollar has fallen to near-record lows against the pound. For British shoppers the timing couldn't be better.

There are only three weeks left until Christmas and cut-throat competition means U.S. retailers are slashing their prices.

The planes are packed with British bargain-hunters doing their Christmas shopping in New York, Boston, and other American cities. There are so many travellers, in fact, that British Airways has added four extra flights per week to the U.S.

But a great deal for shoppers may mean bad news for the planet. Each airline passenger flying between London and New York is responsible for 1.5 tonnes of CO2 pumped into the atmosphere. So please think twice before you book that flight.

But if the shopping is just too good to miss, we'll help you clean up the mess. Offsetting your transatlantic flight will cost just £13.50, and support investments in carbon saving projects around the world.

Remember to always reduce what you can, and offset the rest. And good luck with customs.

(Carbon Clear Homepage)

Friday, 1 December 2006

EU Announces New CO2 Limits

The European Union yesterday announced 2008-2012 CO2 allowances for ten countries, under the Kyoto Protocol climate change treaty. Countries that are not able to keep pollution within these limits must purchase carbon credits from countries that do not use their entire allowance.

The UK's new annual emissions limit will be 246.2 million tonnes of CO2, compared to a limit of 245.3 million tonnes in 2005. In other words, the country will have to hold emissions constant despite a growing economy and rising population. Other countries, like Germany, face more stringent year-on-year cuts.

Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas said: “Today’s decisions send a strong signal that Europe is fully committed to achieving the Kyoto target and making the EU ETS a success."