Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Carbon Footprint: Can you buy back yours?

When I flew up to Boston this weekend for my brother's wedding I started thinking about my carbon footprint again. Usually when you buy a plane ticket, nowadays, there is the option to add a fee which "buys back your CO2 consumption" and supports companies who contribute to green technologies or something. I decided to see exactly where this money goes by researching the companies being invested in.

(First, you should calculate your carbon footprint by visiting this online calculator...)

But I know mine's high. I'm a teacher: I get a lot of vacation time: so I travel a lot...how can I invest some of my money to help reduce my carbon emissions? Here are some companies willing to help:

1. The Nature Conservancy accepts charitable gift donations and plants trees to offset CO2. 
2. Carbonfund.org also offers a carbon footprint calculator and through money gifts invests in projects in three categories: Renewable Energy & methane, Energy efficiency & carbon credits, and Reforestation and avoided deforestation. (Read about their projects here.)
3. Green Mountain Energy (and its projects) support alternative fuels: wind, solar, biomass, geothermal, landfill, methane capture carbon offsets, and hydro.
4. Carbon Footprint also offers a clean energy portfolio and Certified Emission Reduction. (Chosen by IKEA, Hoover, and Deutsche Bank businesses.)

I wonder if there are actually statistics of what percentage of people actually pay the voluntary airline fee/donation to these companies-and how much this opportunity is actually helping the world. The native Massachusetts-taxachusetts democratic influence over me wishes the $12? Fee could just be tacked on- just like the environmental fee with every oil change these days...although there is something inherently wrong with the mentality of "buying back" bad environmental behaviors. That sort of mentality could foster a nonchalance and indifference that sets us back 20 years again. (Check out the Climate Commissioners that agree with me: we can't stop the heat.) There has to be a way to unite everyone uncertain practices that improve our world instead if burdening it with gases and trash...I guess simply educating people about the difference a single person can make is a start.

Carbon Emissions in the News: (What you should know).
Mar 28th: "Five Everyday Things You Can Do To Reduce Your Carbon Footprint." By Susan Cornell.
Mar 28th: China announces targets for carbon emissions and energy cuts.
Mar 7th: The EU sets emissions targets for airlines as of 2012.