Wednesday, 30 April 2008

The Myth of the 'False Solution'

In the old black and white horror movies, a werewolf would terrorise hapless villagers. Impervious to normal weapons, the werewolf would shrug off their attacks until the hero arrived and slew the beast with the only thing that could kill it - a silver bullet.

The old werewolf movies were just harmless entertainment, but real threats stalk the global village - and climate change is right near the top.

Unfortunately, many people are still looking for a silver bullet to make the threat go away, and rejecting any measure that doesn't promise an instant fix:
The critics are right, of course. No single solution available today will solve the problem.

However, it is a mistake to argue that partial solutions are useless. In fact, they're all that we have. A 2004 paper published by Princeton University researchers S. Pacala and R. Socolow introduced the concept of "climate stabilisation wedges". In short, the researchers estimated the worldwide greenhouse gas reduction potential of energy efficiency, carbon capture and storage, tree planting, renewables, and other measures. They found that each of these measures could save about a billion tonnes of CO2 equivalent by 2050. Here's one illustration of how these figures could stack up:

Taken together, these "climate wedges" could reduce greenhouse gas emissions by nearly 200 billion tonnes - enough to stave off the worst climate change impacts.

That's it, problem solved. No technological breakthroughs. No silver bullets. Just lots of partial measures, enacted at the same time. This means support for renewables AND energy efficiency AND tree planting AND carbon capture AND etc., etc.

Climate change isn't a horror movie from the golden age of cinema. Just because a measure isn't "the solution" does not mean we should reject it outright. There is no silver bullet that can solve the problem of climate change. A number of short-sighted actions have combined to cause this problem - deforestation, coal-fired power stations, trains, planes and automobiles. We'll solve it the same way, by working together, on a hundred small solutions.

(Carbon Clear homepage)

Tuesday, 29 April 2008

Carbon Clear in Top 30 Global offset providers according to ENDS Report

Carbon Clear has been formally recognised as a global leader in the carbon offset market for the high quality of its offsets and carbon management consultancy. Out of all the organisations ENDS investigated world-wide, only 30 were recognised in its list of Quality Offset Providers, with 140 failing to make the grade.

The top 30 quality providers came from a range of organisation types across the globe but were united in their ability to meet the following criteria:

  • The quality of the offset: all investments should be traceable to specifically named offset projects.
  • Timing of delivery: carbon credits should have already been generated or be guaranteed to be delivered in the short-term.
  • Emissions calculation: emissions savings are calculated and verified by official standards, for example ISO 14064 or from official DEFRA figures.
  • Transparency: quality providers were judged to be transparent with regards to the credit source, quality of the offset, the timeline of its projects and pricing.
  • Engagement and advice: the ENDS Guide also recognised the importance of broader climate change strategies and praised those carbon offset providers that also offer advice and management processes to reduce clients’.
  • Other considerations included the breadth of projects in the organisation’s portfolio, levels of engagement with the projects and overall experience.

The respected environmental publisher created its guide to carbon offsets to provide readers an understanding of the offsetting process and how to identify providers that are committed to offering a quality service and operating responsibly.

Commenting on Carbon Clear’s inclusion, Mark Chadwick, CEO of Carbon Clear said: “I'm delighted that the ENDS Report has recognised Carbon Clear's commitment to high quality projects and advisory services. From the outset we have focused on delivering the highest standards and we're immensely gratified to see this hard work has been acknowledged by an industry leader such as the ENDS Report.”

Even MORE "Buy One Grow One Tree" Goodness from Innocent and Carbon Clear

Following the success of last year’s "Buy One Get One Tree" campaign, innocent is teaming up with Carbon Clear again for its bigger and better Buy One Grow One Tree scheme. Throughout May, for each carton of smoothie sold and registered, innocent will grow a tree in one of Carbon Clear’s projects in India. Each carton has a unique code which when registered on the dedicated website will see a tree planted.

The innocent smoothie drinkers across the UK who participated in the last BoGoT project are responsible for a whopping 164,020 trees now growing in rural India, absorbing carbon dioxide and supporting local communities. The trees planted provide food and medicine, shelter for secondary crops and reduce soil erosion. If that’s not enough of an incentive there’s also a little something extra for those who register lots of trees, like a ‘grow your own’ herb box, an extra night in an organic B & B in the countryside or the chance to win a year’s supply of smoothies thanks to the lovely people at innocent.

This year innocent is also supporting The Tree Council’s Walk in the Woods Month to encourage everyone to visit their local forest or parkland during May. At events across the country kids are being encouraged to complete the innocent tree trail and enjoy the UK’s trees and woodlands. For more information visit:

Thursday, 24 April 2008

Carbon Clear joins the UN’s Climate Neutral Network

At yesterday's Global Business for the Environment (B4E) Summit in Singapore, representatives from the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) welcomed Carbon Clear as the first carbon management company to join its Climate Neutral Network (CN Net). Established in February of this year, CN Net’s aim is to inspire leaders in business and government by sharing success stories and best practice in reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Climate change is now a major global issue and a rapidly growing number of individuals, companies, cities and even countries are pledging to become climate neutral as part of CN Net.

As one of the largest independent carbon management companies, Carbon Clear is fully committed to achieving carbon neutrality and supporting the shift to a low-carbon economy. The company applies the same “measure, reduce, and offset” approach to controlling its own greenhouse gas emissions as it uses when helping clients reduce their carbon footprint. In 2007 Carbon Clear worked with over 70 businesses worldwide to help them plan and implement carbon reduction strategies. Clients who work with Carbon Clear to demonstrate their commitment to environmental responsibility include Eurostar, Innocent Drinks, 3M, Multimap and Computer Cabs.

Mark Chadwick, CEO, Carbon Clear, said: “At Carbon Clear we believe that achieving climate neutrality can be an immensely positive experience. We are passionate about helping others to see sustainable business as both necessary and desirable. It is important that we share best practice and success stories in order to inspire others; through the Climate Neutral Network we can create a community that illustrates how good a sustainable future can be.”

In a statement welcoming Carbon Clear as a new CN Net participant, UNEP said: “We believe that the expertise of pioneering carbon management companies like Carbon Clear will benefit not only CN Net participants but also the broader private sector community, by helping businesses ‘kick their carbon habit’.”

Friday, 18 April 2008

In Memoriam: Energy Expert Alex Farrell

By Robert Sanders, Media Relations | 17 April 2008

– Alexander E. Farrell, an associate professor in the Energy and Resources Group at the University of California, Berkeley, who worked closely with state government over the past year to chart a course to reduce California's carbon emissions, died earlier this week at his home in San Francisco. He was 46.

Farrell, who joined the UC Berkeley faculty in 2003 and became director of the campus's Transportation Sustainability Research Center in 2006, was recognized internationally as a leading expert on transportation fuels and the role of transportation in climate change. His research interests included biofuels, hybrid electric vehicles and hydrogen vehicles, the low-carbon fuel standard and transportation sustainability.

"He was one of the leading lights in the area of low-carbon fuels and energy systems, and his career was on a dramatic rise," said colleague Dan Kammen, a professor in the Energy and Resources Group and of public policy who helped recruit Farrell to UC Berkeley and co-authored many papers with him, including a just-released report on plug-in hybrid vehicles. "The trajectory of his career and his contributions were both impressive. Alex was a great mentor to the graduate students in the group as well as to students from across campus working on energy and sustainability."


"Alex was brilliant, energetic, supportive, insightful and caring, and he had a way of challenging his colleagues and students to think more critically even when they thought they already were," said Tim Lipman, a UC Berkeley colleague and the founding research director of the Transportation Sustainability Research Center. "His career had reached a point where his loss is an enormous one, not just for the Energy and Resources Group and the transportation center, but also for the global transportation and energy community."

Monday, 7 April 2008

UK Government Considers Mandatory Carbon Footprints for Business

I attended a carbon footprinting discussion at the UK Houses of Parliament last year on behalf of Carbon Clear. At that session, Christian Aid and other organisations were calling for standardised corporate carbon footprinting and a Defra representative mentioned that they were setting aside funding to research the issue.

It was therefore no surprise to read in yesterday's Independent on Sunday newspaper that the UK Government has moved closer to requiring publicly listed companies to disclose their corporate carbon footprints along with the other data included in their annual reports.

There are many reasons why diferent actors would want companies to report this information. First, it makes it easier to benchmark the performance of individual firms. This enables government, shareholders and activists to identify and praise the environmental leaders and criticise the laggards. Such pressure, it is hoped, will pressure companies faster voluntary action to reduce emissions.

The second, and to my mind more important rationale, is that mandatory carbon footprints provides greater access to a very powerful management tool for large and small companies alike. Carbon footprinting provides an opportunity for managers to look at their company from a new perspective. In addition to helping benchmarking against the competition, understanding and tackling your corporate carbon footprint provides five key benefits:

  1. Reducing costs: As a company, your biggest sources of carbon emissions are often items that cost you money: fuel, electricity, raw materials, and waste disposal. Using these resources more efficiently can trim your carbon footprint while helping your bottom line.
  2. Developing new business opportunities: The "green and ethical" consumer market was worth £30 billion in 2006 and continues to grow rapidly. Companies that can respond to this opportunity new lower-carbon products and services stand to gain competitive advantage.
  3. Engaging staff and customers: As I pointed out in an earlier post, employees expect their companies to be good environmental citizens. Developing a carbon footprint reduction strategy is a way to involve a cross section of staff in an exciting new initiative, secure a visible commitment from senior management, and strengthen morale.
  4. Strengthening the brand: A report by the Carbon Trust indicates that climate change has put over £20 billion pounds of brand equity at risk. Communicating your low-carbon credentials in an effective manner can help companies protect and strengthen their brand in a low-carbon economy. For example, Walkers gained a tremendous amount of free publicity when it put carbon footprint labels on its potato chips. More and more companies are joining in.
  5. Increasing peace of mind: Climate change creates winners and losers. Government policies, customer buying behaviour, investment criteria and business costs all change when we shift to a low-carbon economy. Measuring and analysing the corporate carbon footprint is the first step in understanding how climate change affects the company. That knowledge helps managers increase the likelihood that their company is a winner.

It's a shame that the Independent article doesn't mention any of these benefits. The main response they highlight from a business spokesperson is a negative one:

"The CBI said on Friday in response to the news that although it endorsed mandatory reporting and would like to see it implemented by 2013, the definition of carbon emissions was not sufficiently developed for the move to be introduced this year."

In fact, Carbon Clear and major corporations around the world have been using an international standard, ISO 14064-1, to measure carbon footprints for years. That standard was released two years ago and has been used by hundreds of governments, small businesses and multinational corporations. Other listed companies around the world are already reporting their emissions under a variant of this standard for the Carbon Disclosure Project. So the main objection to mandatory reporting - that there's no standard definition - goes away.

We'll keep watching as government policy evolves. After all, at Carbon Clear, we help companies and individuals take action to tackle climate change and gain as much benefit as possible from the shift to a low-carbon economy. The more tools we can give our partners, the better.

(Back to the Carbon Clear website)