Thursday, June 7, 2007

Flying Green - Carbon Offsets

Today in the media you see a lot about “carbon offsets”. What exactly are these? Well, basically it is a way to pay for the emissions caused by vehicle travel – plane, train or automobile– and other emissions by investing in a “green” project. These projects range from trees being planted to research in alternative fuels to helping a village to go solar. For instance, the amount of CO2 spewed into the atmosphere when I drove to the beach the other day, can be offset or neutralized by helping someone else install solar panels.

Carbon offsets are a rather new idea and still need to prove themselves as a viable idea in practice. Several companies have sprung up to facilitate the use of carbon offsets. We have a few listed below. Most of these have carbon calculators on their sites or links to calculators.

Carbon Fund

Charge for offsetting one ton of carbon emissions - $5.50

Carbonfund supports renewable energy, energy efficiency and reforestation projects globally that reduce carbon dioxide emissions and the threat of climate change.

Carbon Fund is a 501(3)C.

Native Energy

Charge for offsetting one ton of carbon emissions - $12

NativeEnergy helps you help build Native American, farmer-owned, community based renewable energy projects that create social, economic, and environmental benefits.

Native Energy is a for profit company.


Charge for offsetting one ton of carbon emissions - $10

TerraPass channels its resources to get the maximum environmental benefit from every dollar. We fund three types of leading-edge projects: clean energy such as wind and biodiesel; biomass such as dairy farm methane; and industrial efficiency.

TerraPass is a for profit company.

Solar Electric Light Fund (SELF)

Charge for offsetting one ton of carbon emissions -$10

The Solar Electric Light Fund (SELF) helps rural, off-grid people in developing countries to power a brighter future through clean, renewable energy and modern communications.

SELF is a 501(3)C.

The travel industry is interested in this concept of carbon offsets and some travel agencies, such as Expedia and Travelocity, are starting to partner with carbon offsetting companies and offer the traveler an easy way to purchase his/her offsets. Extra clicks of the button and you have added carbon offsets to the price of your ticket!

Carbon offsetting is in its infancy stages. Questions such as how to audit a company’s handling of offsets, should there be any type of regulation, and the big question - do carbon offsets actually help neutralize carbon emissions still need to be answered. But one thing is for sure - it is great to see the entrepreneurial spirit at work to improve our environment.

Let us know your experience with purchasing carbon offsets.

No comments: