Sunday, 24 September 2006

Free* Offsets from Carbon Clear!

Here's a way reduce your personal CO2 emissions, get your Carbon Clear offset package at no additional cost, and get a free lunch.

Work from home just one day a month. That's it; no tricks, no gimmicks.

Here's the deal: Explain to your boss (or yourself if you're the boss) that you need to work at home once a month to finish up that important project without constant interruption. (Remember to actually do the office work and not the house-keeping.)

If you normally drive to work every day, keeping the car parked one day each month will save around £43 in petrol, and cut your driving related CO2 emissions by over 100kg! That's enough to purchase a medium car offset to cancel out the rest of your driving emissions - and have enough left for a nice lunch. If you can talk your boss into letting you work from home twice a month, that's more CO2 saved, and more free lunches.

What if you don't drive? If you live in London and pay £3 a day on the Tube, working from home once a month will save you £36. That's enough to offset that winter holiday flight to Southeast Asia you've been planning - and get that free lunch.

Remember, reduce what you can and offset the rest to keep us all moving towards a low carbon future.

And enjoy lunch.

(*Well, you save more than you pay.)

Wednesday, 20 September 2006

Why Do Companies Go Carbon Clear?

Here in the European Union, electric utilities and other fuel-hungry businesses are required by law to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. If they can’t make in-house reductions, they have to buy extra credits. These credits come from companies that have reduced their emissions even more than they were required.

The UK companies covered under this programme account for about a third of the country’s greenhouse gas emissions. Individuals account for roughly another third when they fly, drive, and heat their homes. The final third comes from businesses that aren’t covered under the European emissions reduction regulations.

Yet, if you read the news, more and more of these businesses are going on a carbon diet and voluntarily reducing their emissions. What’s going on?

We’ve been talking to our business customers, and here's what they say.

First, business owners and executives are also members of communities and families. They know that climate change is a serious issue and they want to be part of the solution. Reducing their emissions and buying offsets on a corporate scale helps them magnify their individual impact.

Many companies are reducing their climate pollution because their investors and customers demand it. The Carbon Disclosure Project works with the giant pension fund investors, and asks major companies to state what steps they are taking to deal with climate change. As a business, when your investors start asking questions, you tend to pay attention.

Third, reducing greenhouse gas emissions can give their company a competitive advantage. Being distinctly, verifiably greener can make companies stand out from the competition. Consumers are smart; they’ll sniff out a marketing gimmick a mile away. That’s why we always ask our business customers to make significant in-house reductions even as they purchase carbon offsets, for example by eliminating free staff and customer parking or switching to green electricity. If they need help, we’ll calculate their carbon footprint for them, and walk them through a range of different carbon-reduction options. In many cases, companies can actually save enough money to completely pay for their remaining offset purchases.

The total number of companies that have voluntarily gone on a carbon diet is still quite small. But we’re helping more and more every day. Both businesses and individuals have a role to play in tackling climate change.

(Carbon Clear Homepage)

Sunday, 17 September 2006

Free Offset Packages

Here’s a secret trick to getting your Carbon Clear offset packages for free. And get a free lunch thrown into the deal. Just promise not to tell too many people. Are you ready?

Drive 10 miles per hour slower on the highway. Seriously, that’s it. Free offsets and a free lunch. Here’s how it works.

Last year, the Edmunds automotive team took a bunch of cars out on an extended test drive, fitted with computerized mileage readouts. They found that driving the cars at 65 mph instead of 75 mph resulted in a 12% savings on fuel. Since most people do a lot of city driving as well, let’s cut that number in half and assume you’ll reduce fuel use by 6% over the next year. What's more, you'll reduce your driving-related CO2 emissions by the same amount!

Suppose you drive 12,000 miles per year in a car with moderately good mileage, say 36 miles per gallon. Reducing your speed a little would mean 90 litres (24 US gallons) less fuel that you have to buy. In the US where gas costs $2.50 per gallon, you’d save $60, enough to cover the cost of your medium car offset with cash to spare.

At today's average petrol price in the UK, you’d save £81. That means you could buy a medium car driving offset and offset your emissions from household gas and electricity. This would bring you deliciously close to a carbon-free lifestyle.

What’s more, you’d still have plenty of money left over for that free lunch.

(Link to Carbon Clear homepage)

Thursday, 14 September 2006

No Worries

We’re flooded by alarming climate change news these days. The latest is that methane that was stored in the Siberian permafrost 40,000 years ago is starting to bubble out.

Methane is a powerful greenhouse gas, so some scientists are asking whether this is the start of a vicious circle of warming.

It would be easy for us to throw up our hands and say, “We’re doomed, let’s just party!” But we can’t. My kids and all the others in their and future generations won’t let us give up. There’s a lot we can do to make a difference right here and right now.

My kids’ have been playing a CD of Disney soundtracks non-stop for the past three weeks. After three weeks that Lion King song, “Hakuna Matata” is stuck in my head. So I’m putting it to good use - give or take a few changed lyrics:

No worries for the rest of the day,
It’s our carbon-free philosophy
Hakuna Matata

Monday, 11 September 2006

9/11 And The End Of Air Travel

Five years ago on this day, I lived in Washington, DC. On the morning of September 11th there was still one hijacked plane unaccounted for, and I was racing against the flow of traffic to reach my daughter’s day-care, two blocks from the White House. Later, if I walked down the road, I could see the smoke rising from the Pentagon.

One of the most noticeable things in the days that followed was that the skies were empty, save for the occasional military fighter patrol. We lived in the flight path of Reagan National Airport, so the silence was both welcome and disconcerting. Everything seemed different, and we wondered whether the airport would ever reopen.

In the end, flights to Reagan National resumed, just as they had at airports all around the US. The largest terrorist attack in the nation’s history was not going to keep most people out of airplanes for more than a few weeks.

Fast forward five years and we’re in London. Security alerts mean that it can take more than three hours to check in at Heathrow. A few people stay away, but most simply arrive hours early. For many people, hours of queuing, body searches, no liquids, and the like is the price they are willing to pay to get on a flight. Okay, maybe “willing” is putting things too strongly.

All this should be sobering news for people worried about the environmental impact of flying. It’s going to be an uphill battle to solve the problem by keeping people off of airplanes. A lot of people will continue to fly regardless of how many taxes are imposed or how much environmental guilt is piled on. For many people, airplanes are simply their preferred mode of travel and only an outright ban will stop them from flying. I’m not passing judgement here, just acknowledging a fact.

So what can we do? I think making the alternatives more attractive can help. Among other things, we need more affordable and reliable high-speed rail links to compete with short-haul flights. We can also work together to encourage the airline industry to use cleaner, more efficient aircraft. My former boss is hard at work on this now. Finally, we need to make it easier to clean up the remaining pollution.

(Link to Carbon Clear Homepage)

Thursday, 7 September 2006

All Hands on Deck!

When the ship is sinking, everyone needs to pitch in to help. The Financial Times quotes Prof. Peter Smith of Nottingam University as saying the “tipping point” to runaway global warming is closer than expected. Says Prof. Smith:

“We could reach the tipping point within 15 to 20 years from now, which would give us just 10 years tin which to determine the destiny of our planet…the government’s energy review totally fails to appreciate the urgency of the situation.”

The British Association Science Festival has been going on, and the attendees conclude that there’s no longer any doubt that climate change is serious. Now we know for sure we have a big problem and less time than we’d hoped to solve it. What do we do?

The international climate negotiators and technology developers are playing a long game. They’re working on solutions that will provide global, hopefully permanent, climate benefits. But many of them, from mandatory emissions reductions in China and India to replacing all our petrol engines with sustainable hydrogen, will take decades to achieve.

We can’t continue with business-as-usual while we wait. If you’ve been considering the switch to green electricity, go ahead and give it a try. Thinking about signing up for a car-sharing scheme? No time like the present. It's true that planting trees and similar measures are a temporary fix - they only help as long as the trees survive. Similarly, lowering the thermostat only works as long as we remember to do it. But if these efforts can buy us some time, pushing the “tipping point” back a few more years, it gives us more time to transition to a true low-carbon economy. Every little bit helps, but we all have to pitch in.

(Carbon Clear Homepage)

Monday, 4 September 2006

Carbon Trading: Not Just for Big Business

The past week was a big one for the fight against climate change.

In California, Arnold Schwarzenegger announced plans to reduce state-wide greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by the year 2020. Here in the UK, David Cameron, leader of the Conservative Party, shared the stage with Friends of the Earth and floated a raft of environmental proposals. Meanwhile, a horde of demonstrators descended on the UK’s largest coal-fired power plant, which goes by the movie-villain name Drax.

Politicians on both sides of the Atlantic have been staging “green” photo-ops for the cameras for years. Some, like Tony Blair, have already put in place substantive measures to help the environment. But the Schwarzenegger and Cameron moves might prove to be more than clever PR from the more rightward parties in the US and UK. I think the Drax protest shows that climate change is an issue that can galvanise people to take action in the way that the anti-apartheid movement did two decades earlier. Politicians ignore this kind of sentiment at their peril.

The major climate change initiatives in place in the UK, and those being set up in California, require polluters to reduce their emissions. Once emitters have reduced what they can, the initiatives give them the flexibility to purchase carbon offsets from firms that can achieve the remaining reductions more cost-effectively. As long as overall emissions have gone down, everyone should be satisfied.

In both cases, however, this trading is only open to large, polluting industries. Smaller companies and individuals who want to do their part are left to their own resources.

Protesting at power stations is not the only way for everyday people to help. We can all take common sense measures to reduce our uses of fossil fuels. We can insulate our homes and replace loose-fitting windows. We can drive less, share a ride, and purchase more efficient vehicles. And we can use tools similar to those of big business, and purchase offsets to move the rest of the way towards our emissions reduction targets.

Offsets: They’re not just for big business. We can all become "carbon-neutral".

(Carbon Clear homepage)