Friday, 28 September 2007

Travel Green With Multimap and Carbon Clear

Multimap, Europe’s leading online mapping service provider, has enhanced its travel directions service to offer users information about the carbon footprint of journeys, as well as the ability to offset those journeys.

The service is provided through a partnership with Carbon Clear, a leading carbon management company that helps businesses and consumers manage their greenhouse gas emissions.

To use the carbon calculator, Multimap users click the “get directions” link on, enter their journeys’ start and end points, click “find”, and are presented with step-by-step directions and route maps. The directions results now include information on the carbon footprint of the journey. A pull-down menu allows users to choose the correct engine size of their cars, and to compare the carbon footprint of the journey if they were to go by bus or train instead of driving. Users clicking on the “more info” link will find details of how the carbon footprint is calculated, and can visit the Carbon Clear website to take action to offset their journeys.

Multimap’s founder Sean Phelan, said, “We all know that driving has a negative effect on the environment. We’ve partnered with Carbon Clear to help raise users’ awareness of the impact of driving, and also to make it easier to offset the carbon emissions of those journeys. Carbon Clear invests in carbon-reducing projects that balance the greenhouse gas emissions from vehicles, and we’re very pleased to support this work.”

Mark Chadwick, CEO and founder of Carbon Clear, added: “We’re really excited to be working together on this initiative. There is a real opportunity here to encourage behaviour change as so many people use Multimap to plan their journeys. It’s really important that we all understand the environmental impact of our travel. By using this innovative new tool everyone can get a much clearer picture of vehicle emissions and choose the lower-carbon option”.

Tuesday, 25 September 2007

More Buy One Get One Tree Goodness from innocent and Carbon Clear

We all know we need to do our bit for the environment. Small things can make a big difference, so innocent has teamed up with Carbon Clear for its Buy one Get one Tree promotion in October. For every innocent smoothie carton sold in leading supermarkets, innocent will get a tree planted in one of Carbon Clear’s dedicated reforestation projects. All you have to do is log on and register your unique code, and the rest will be taken care of for you.

The aim of the Buy one Get one Tree initiative is to get over 100,000 trees planted in rural communities in Africa and India. The groups choose the varieties of trees that best suit their needs themselves, and our donation will ensure they are looked after for 30 years. A quick recap of why trees are so great:

• The trees we plant will provide income - the communities planting the trees receive regular payments for maintaining the trees. These payments help to protect the community against economic downturn or crop failure.

• Trees protect food crops - the planted trees reduce soil erosion and provide shade.

• Trees help provide a livelihood - the species planted offer a variety of agricultural crops plus nutritional and medicinal uses.

• Trees help combat climate change - they absorb carbon dioxide as they grow.

Jessica Sansom, sustainability manager, innocent drinks says “Buy one get one tree is all about making it simple for innocent smoothie drinkers to do their little bit. Trees have so many positive benefits to offer local communities from providing a source of income, to enriching the soil and providing shade. We’re really excited about the scheme”

Look out for innocent drinks in the chilled juice aisle of your store.

For more information on Carbon Clear please contact Zoe on 01273 620194 or email her at

For more information on innocent, please contact Ailana on 020 8600 3958, or email her at

Monday, 24 September 2007

Climate Change and the Ozone Layer

Reuters reports that delegates at the United Nations Environment Program conference in Montreal reached agreement last Friday to speed up the elimination of hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs), a powerful greenhouse gas. A tonne of HCFCs has 5,000 to 8,000 times as much global warming impact as a tonne of carbon dioxide, so phasing out these chemicals can make a big impact.

HCFCs are used as a refrigerant in air conditioners, refrigerators and other cooling equipment. They became popular after the 1987 Montreal Protocol, as a substitute for chemicals that had a more damaging effect on the ozone layer. As I mentioned in a blog post last year, one of the unintended consequences of the Montreal Protocol was the more widespread use of chemicals that contribute to global climate change.

Last Friday's agreement gives developed countries until 2010 to reduce HCFC emissions by 75% and phase them out completely by 2020. Developing countries, meanwhile, have agreed to a 10% cut by 2015, with a gradual phase-out by 2030. The phase-out would likely reduce global greehouse gas emissions by several billion tonnes.

This is great news. Eliminating HCFCs is by itself not enough to tackle climate change - after all there's no signle solution. But this is a useful addition to our collective toolkit. The Carbon Clear team is committed to finding the best set of tools to help clients control their carbon impact.

(Back to Carbon Clear homepage)

Friday, 21 September 2007

"This Really Matters"

American pollster Frank Luntz recently held a focus group to determine British attitudes towards climate change. During the session, broadcast on BBC's "Newsnight" programme, something interesting happened.

Luntz noted that when he asks about politics, he normally needs to do a few warm-up exercises to get the group talking. But from the very first question to this group of climate change "sceptics and believers", "he couldn't get them to shut up." Everyone wanted to have their say, and Luntz could barely get a word in edge-wise.

I've seen the same thing. When the Carbon Clear team goes in to help a company with its carbon management strategy, everyone wants to get involved. Decisions that, for a similar montary value would be decided in one hour by a single purchasing manager, become discussions that last for weeks or months and involve every major department and the board of directors.


Frank Luntz asked his focus group the same question, and I'll paraphrase the answer from one respondent:

"It's because this really matters. When you ask who's going to win the next election, it doesn't really matter. This - it matters."

I think that's the right answer. Climate change isn't someone else's problem - it's everyone's problem. People feel they have a stake in the outcome, and want to get involved.

The popular view is that companies make a statement on climate change to add a bit of "green" to their corporate credentials. The reality is that it's a major strategic decision, and corporate decision-makers increasingly realise that if they don't propose solutions, someone else will propose something instead. It's better to get involved in the process and try to find an approach that works.

The steps a company takes to respond to climate change can have a major effect on its future competitiveness. When we work with businesses to develop their carbon management strategy, we look at the entire value chain - the source of their raw materials, their suppliers, what type of energy source they use, how their goods are delivered, even how their staff get to and from work. No wonder there are so many meetings.

Taking serious measures to help tackle climate change can change how a company does business, influence how their customers perceive them, and ultimately affect how profitable they will be in the future. At Carbon Clear, we work with companies to make the right decisions, and help them take action as swiftly and cost-effectively as possible.

As Frank Luntz observed, things can get a bit noisy, but we're quietly pleased when everyone wants to get involved. It shows that our clients are giving this issue the attention it deserves.

(Back to the Carbon Clear homepage)

Thursday, 13 September 2007

Bellies vs. Fuel Tanks, Part 2

Has it been a year already?

In August 2006, I wrote a short post on the coming conflict between using corn, soya, and other crops to produce biofuels, and using them as food.

A few months later, environmental groups began campaigning actively around this issue. Now, in the face of rising grain prices in the U.S. and other countries, Governments have gotten in on the act.

Earlier this week, the Financial Times reported on the front page that the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development is criticising subsidies for biofuels made from food crops. The OECD is concerned that these measures are distorting the market and leading to food price inflation, without achieving significant greenhouse gas emissions savings. One credible study that I've seen estimates that we would need to use 60% of the planet's cultivable land to completely replace the petrol used in today's vehicles. This would, of course, never happen, so they're right in that regard.

What's more, food commodity prices are set at the margin, meaning that very small changes in supply and demand affect prices throughout the market. So even a small shift to biofuels is likely to cause price swings. So these changes are not unexpected. In fact, they generate healthy discussion by forcing us to confront how much we value these competing uses for food crops.

It's not too surprising that political leaders would sit up and pay attention to this issue now. Voters tend to complain a bit when the price of fuel rises, but things can get really ugly when the price of bread skyrockets.

Current-generation biofuels were never going to solve the problem of climate change by themselves. What is more likely is a portfolio of partial solutions. These include current-generation biofuels where they are economically feasible, vehicle fuel-efficiency improvements, so-called "second generation" biofuels made from agricultural waste products, public transport and town planning measures to encourage people to use their cars less, and perhaps increased use of electric and hydrogen-powered vehicles.

(Carbon Clear home)

The Arctic Gold Rush

Apologies for the light posting. Here's one I wrote a few weeks ago but didn't get around to posting:

For years climate scientists and environmental campaigners have worried about the impact that climate change is having on the Arctic. These impacts range from native villages sinking as the permafrost thaws, to more polar bears giving birth on land as the sea ice melts. And because the dark ocean water absorbs more heat than the reflective ice, a thawing Arctic could lead to faster and faster melting.

Now the world has recognised another unintended consequence of climate change in the Arctic.All that melting ice has uncovered a vast untapped frontier within easy reach of the industrialised economies. Geologists estimate that the ocean floor beneath the Arctic ice holds valuable deposits of iron, gold and other minerals - along with as much oil as Saudi Arabia.

And the rush is on. A month ago Russia launched a surprise expedition to plant a flag on the ocean floor beneath the North Pole and lay claim to a vast swathe of the Arctic sea floor. Then the Financial Times reported that Canada is also prepared to make a claim:

"The Russians sent a submarine to drop a small flag at the bottom of the ocean. We're sending ouor prime minister to reassert Canadian sovereignty," said a senior government official according to Canadian press."

Canada is focused on maintaining ownership of the Northwest Passage, an ice-free transit route that promises to slash shipping times between Asia and the Atlantic. With so much manufacturing taking place in China, that could help to reduce overall shipping-related carbon emissions.

But those savings would be dwarfed by the emissions from using all that oil, regardless of who owns it. It's ironic that climate change has exposed a vast new reserve of fossil fuels which, if used, will accelerate the warming.