• All Purchases made this month instantly go into the draw to win a USD $ 100.00 credit to your HoP account.
 

Forums > Social Discussion > how can I make up for flying and driving (Carbon Offsets)?

Login/Join to Participate

Pyrolific
BRONZE Member since Jan 2001

Returning to a unique state of Equilibrium
Location: Adelaide, South Australia

Total posts: 3289
Posted:Hey All,

well my reading of BlueCats Enviro-Hippies and Flying has lead me to walk to try to repair some of the damage I've done by flying to India and back recently. I looked up a site Elementree where I can calculate my carbon usage and how many trees I can pay them to plant to offset my carbon emissions. Well it seems that to offset myself and my partner we need 164 trees planted. This will cost a little under $300AUD.

Now I dont mind paying, but I decided to do a little research first. I found a blog that has some arguments on it about tree farms, saying that in reality its a bandaid solution and that in the long term it wont work.

I guess I have some reservations about it myself too - it sounds like a really easy way to get rich for the owner, and an guilt free way for rich people to get out of changing.

What assurance do I have that after paying these guys they dont just sell up to a logging company or something similar? I mean the trees need to be in the ground for a long time (up to 70years I think ) before my carbon emissions are offset.

I know there are other ways to offset, but I dont even know how to start looking for them - can anyone shed some light on this?

while on the subject, does anyone know whether solar panels have yet passed the point where they give back more energy than they take to produce? I know that in previous years they didnt - but I was wondering if this is still the case. We are considering getting a grid-conncted solar array - but dont want to do it if its going to be overalll worse for the environment.

Thanks,

Josh


--
Help! My personality got stuck in this signature machine and I cant get it out!

Delete Topic

Seye
SILVER Member since Mar 2005

Seye

Geek
Location: Manchester, UK

Total posts: 1261
Posted:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Photovoltaics#Environmental_impacts
br>
It says that here in not so sunny middle europe it takes between 2.5 and 3 years to pay back the energy debt.

smile

Me and my girlfriend are looking at building a house in the next few years and I'm seriously looking at the possibility of including solar panels when we do.


Delete

bluecat


bluecat

geek, level 1
Location: everywhere

Total posts: 5300
Posted:hug



www.climatecare.org are my current favourite offset company. they're a UK company, but would cetainly be able to offer help as to finding an Aus based company. Or you could go with them as they are internationally active.



here is what they say (edited from loads of info on the website) about their offset programme:



------------



Climate Care offsets your CO2 by funding projects around the world. These can be in:



* Renewable energy this replaces non-renewable fuel such as coal

* Energy efficiency this reduces the amount of fuel needed

* Forest restoration this absorbs CO2 from the atmosphere as the trees grow



Currently 80% of our offsets are sourced from sustainable energy projects.



This is expected to rise to 95% over the coming year.



We believe that planting trees cannot be seen as a solution to climate change when taken in isolation. Nevertheless, approximately 20% of global greenhouse gas emissions each year come from deforestation and forest fires.



Going forward our policy is to focus on sustainable energy based carbon reduction projects



--------------

this is their FAQ page, but the whole site is worth a look around. have a look at the question on 'tree planting'



----------------------



How is offsetting my CO2 going to help reduce the threat of climate change?



Climate change is one of the most serious threats facing global society. We all need to make every effort to reduce our emissions as much as we can; we should then offset the remainder.



Offsetting reduces climate change:



* By making real reductions in amounts of CO2 in the atmosphere which would not have happened without us.

* By providing funds for renewable technologies and efficient appliances

* By raising awareness of the impact that our lifestyles have on the climate





Why are you not a charity?



Climate Care is a company limited by guarantee and has no shareholders.



When Climate Care started, as now, it was felt that Climate Cares service should not be simply seen as doing good. We want people to pay us for a service, and thereby make the link between their actions and the climate. This is subtly different to people donating money to good works.



There is also the concern that if cleaning up pollution was adopted as a charitable goal, then the scale of the problem would mean that charitable giving to other sectors could be severely curtailed.



So Climate Care is not a charity, as we do not believe it should be left to the charitable sector to clear up pollution.



We are sometimes asked why we do not convert to being a charity, as there may be tax advantages of doing so. We have considered it in the past and we may consider it in the future but, for the reasons outlined above, it would be difficult to do so.



How do you choose which projects to fund?



We have six years experience of sourcing projects and have developed a strong network of contacts around the world with which we can develop high quality CO2 offset projects with strong sustainable development credentials.



For example, Climate Care provides funding for the Ashden Awards for Sustainable Energy. A consequence of this is that we have the opportunity to view a large range of projects which are applying for the Awards from around the world. The prizes are awarded each year to innovative local sustainable energy schemes that both protect the environment, tackle climate change and make real improvements to people's quality of life.



We are always interested in hearing about any potential projects. If you would like to know more about applying to Climate Care for project funds, please see the Developers page.





Do you use tree planting to offset?



Planting trees, as a form of carbon sequestration, cannot be seen as a solution to climate change when taken in isolation. Climate change needs to be addressed by reducing emissions through developing renewable fuel sources or boosting efficiency, rather than by focusing on sequestration. Were excited about the potential for carbon offset money to provide funds to stimulate the development of these essential technologies.



Nevertheless, approximately 20% of emissions each year are from deforestation and forest fires. Therefore over the medium term we are aiming to have 20% of our annual CO2 liabilities in reforestation. In addition, reforestation is a relatively low risk project and allows us to balance risk in our portfolio.



We regularly review the scientific consensus on issues directly affecting our projects.



For a complete list of our current projects, see Our Projects.





What percentage of the cost goes to the project?



Climate Care Trust Ltd pays a royalty of 10% of turnover to Climate Care Ltd. (the company that provided us with initial support and finance), which is included in the offset cost. The remainder of the money, 90% of turnover, is spent either as capital costs for our projects or on the staff and office costs involved in running Climate Care.



In 2004, about 60% of the cost per tonne of CO2 offset was spent directly on projects and their management.



To see a breakdown of our costs and financial performance, please see our Annual Reports.





Can we pick a project to give money to?



Climate Care uses your money in a pool to fund a portfolio of projects reducing CO2, rather than allocating it to one project. We have chosen this approach to ensure that we can best manage our CO2 reduction commitments, by balancing:



* Cost: Some projects are more expensive per tonne of CO2 than others but may give higher quality emissions reductions or wider benefits than other projects.

* Risk: Some projects offer great rewards but carry a real risk of not going ahead or of not delivering as much emissions reductions as expected. The portfolio approach means that should this occur, we can still meet our obligation by putting more money into other projects.



If you are looking to offset a significant number of emissions, such as over 10,000 tonnes, we may be able to source you an exclusive project.





Are you involved in the Kyoto Protocol or EU Emissions Trading Scheme?



Under the Kyoto Protocol, developed countries have agreed to legally binding targets to reduce their overall emissions of greenhouse gases. The EU Emissions Trading Scheme is a mechanism set up to help the member states of the EU achieve these greenhouse gas emissions targets.



Climate Care makes greenhouse gas reductions for the voluntary market, which means that our offsets cannot be traded in the EU scheme or counted towards the Kyoto targets of member states.





Why do you not do projects in the UK?



The UK government has a legally binding Kyoto target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. If we made CO2 reductions in the UK, these would be double-counted on behalf of you and also on behalf of the UK government towards their target. That means wed only be helping to make reductions that had already been promised.



We are committed to an approach of reducing CO2 emissions beyond those that have already been promised across the world through the Kyoto Protocol. So by funding projects in developing countries without Kyoto targets we ensure that the CO2 emissions reductions that you buy go beyond current commitments.





How can we be sure that your projects are making the CO2 reductions that you claim?



Climate Care is scrutinised by our Environmental Steering Committee, which includes eminent environmentalists and NGOs, including WWF and Forum for the Future. To ensure that our projects achieve the CO2 emissions that we claim, our committee requires us to meet three criteria for each project. These are:



* that a third party report be obtained

* that the CO2 reductions be monitored on an ongoing basis

* that any shortfall is made up in other projects



Please see Our Approach for more information about how we ensure the CO2 reductions we make on your behalf are verified and additional.



Carbon Offsets or CO2 Offsets?



The term carbon is often used as shorthand for carbon dioxide (CO2), as in carbon footprint and the carbon market. Care must be taken when referring to what has been offset, however. There is a whole basket of gases that are contributing to climate change, and these are collectively referred to as greenhouse gases (GHGs).



The main greenhouse gas is carbon dioxide (CO2), and this has become the standard measure of emissions. Other GHGs are converted into carbon dioxide equivalents (CO2e) in order to have a common currency when discussing emissions. Climate Care follows this practice. Our calculators work out the quantity of greenhouse gases, and express them in the figure of tonnes of CO2. Our projects also reduce emissions of greenhouse gases other than CO2, and convert these to carbon dioxide equivalents.





How do you calculate the CO2 emissions?



When calculating the CO2 emissions from your activities, Climate Care uses government published figures to convert units of energy to CO2 emissions.



This is quite straightforward for a building's energy use and land transport. However, there are currently some scientific uncertainties surrounding the calculation of emissions from air travel.



For this reason, we frequently review the science in order to calculate emissions from your air travel. This was last done in 2005, when we commissioned Oxford Universitys Environmental Change Institute to review the science and the assumptions we used.



You can view this in the For Living Section.





Why do different offset companies have different prices?



When you buy an offset, the price will be determined by two aspects: the amount of CO2 that is calculated from your activities and the price you are charged to offset this amount.



It is possible that the CO2 emissions calculated can be slightly different due to the assumptions made.



The main difference is likely to be the price of the offset. Our price is 7.50 per tonne of CO2 bought on our website. Other companies may charge different prices to offset a tonne of CO2 or to calculate your emissions.



The price reflects the cost for us to make a reduction of 1 tonne of CO2 through our portfolio.


Holistic Spinner (I hope)

Delete

bluecat


bluecat

geek, level 1
Location: everywhere

Total posts: 5300
Posted:sorry if thats a HUUUGE amount of info to get through. shrug

i'm off to look at the relative value of solar


Holistic Spinner (I hope)

Delete

Gnor
BRONZE Member since Mar 2003

Gnor

Carpal \'Tunnel
Location: Perth, Australia

Total posts: 5814
Posted:Rather than a tree farm can you invest in revegetating a local project or perhaps on a local farmers land. Where it will be carbon sequestering but also perhaps rehabilitation and salt revegetation.
Could you sponser tree at a local school, perhaps at arbour day.
Good thread


Is it the Truth?
Is it Fair to all concerned?
Will it build Goodwill and Better Friendships?
Will it be Beneficial to all concerned?

Im in a lonely battle with the world with a fish to match the chip on my shoulder. Gnu in Binnu in a cnu

Delete

NOn


activist for HoPper liberation.
Location: ffidrac

Total posts: 1643
Posted:Carbon offsetting is indeed hugely popular right now, and generally a nice idea. HOWEVER don't go jumping into bed with the first offsetters you come across, if you're going to do it, do it properly and DO YOUR RESEARCH into the company you choose...

why? you may ask, surely these are fellow tree hugging hippies, they can do no wrong... actually not, carbon offsets is becoming big business and like every big business it has it's good players and it's bad players, and ultimately it's drawbacks.

do i have references for this proclamation of doom? why in fact, yes i do. New Internationalist magazine, July 2006, (see the link below)...

two of the main issues that stuck in my head, was to consider:

a/ where they plant the trees
and
b/ whether the trees are actually suitable for the environment they are being planted in or have they been imported there?

stick something in wrongly, and it's possible it will die within 2 years due to conditions, which in actual terms you means you don't get to offset that much carbon and/or it will utterly disrupt the native ecosystem, introduce disease, pests, who knows what and actually have a detrimental effect on the local environment, effectively killing more life than if you never did it in the first place....

For more info, and the issue of NI that i am referring to try:

http://www.newint.org/issues/2006/07/01/
br>
it appears that they have even published the whole articles online also, which is awfully nice of them smile

Don't let it put you off entirely though, there are probably some genuine trustworthy companies, but it nevertheless is a business and they are nevertheless out to get your money, it is worth checking, otherwise you are just paying more money to cause further damage... get them to prove that they have planted a SUSTAINABLE forest that might actually still be alive in 15 years time along with everything else that's around it...

just thought i better whack up that position early, i'm not anti offsetting at all, we should anyway have more trees, but sometimes in the era of capitalism, businesses have a tendency to jump on bandwagons and then crash them spanktacularly into an environmental disaster.... so worth having the warning too no? wink


Aurinko freedom agreement reached 10th Sept 2006

if it makes no sense that's because it's NOn-sense.

Delete

georgemc
BRONZE Member since Oct 2006

georgemc

Sitting down facing forward . . .
Location: Christchurch, New Zealand

Total posts: 2387
Posted:Josh, there's a whole bunch of Oz based sites I found while stumbling around. Here's some but I can't find the link I was looking for which from memory was related to Victoria's forests. Anyway, hope these are of some help.

http://www.greenhouse.gov.au/index.html

Australian Carbon offset companies:
http://www.carbonneutral.com.au/
br>http://www.climatefriendly.com/index.php
http://www.neco.com.au/default.asp


Written by: Doc Lightning talking about Marmite in Kichi's Intro thread

I have several large jars of the stuff. I actually like it... a little. And don't tell anyone I admitted to it.
grin

Delete

bluecat


bluecat

geek, level 1
Location: everywhere

Total posts: 5300
Posted:this si from the All-energy conference website - edited slightly for relevance:

Offsetting is the only practical way that you can reduce your global warming pollution to zero. You may therefore want to opt for carbon offsetting if travelling.

* Find out why: www.carbontrust.co.uk/carbon/briefing/offsets.htm



* Read about the UK Government's newly launched (18 January 2007) consultation on offsetting by clicking here; and find the relevant documentation by clicking here (the consultation period closes on 13 April 2007).

* General information: Carbon Counter - calculate your carbon footprint, published January 2007 by Collins Gem low-price books. Author: Mark Lynas. Priced 4.99 available from book shops and from www.amazon.co.uk

* Check the activities of the company for which you opt

A study funded by the United States-based non-profit organisation, Clean Air-Cool Planet, widely regarded as a leader in the field, gives only eight out of 30 providers of carbon "offsets" in the USA, UK, Germany and Ireland a score of more than five out of 10 for the service they offer in taking carbon out of the atmosphere. www.cleanair-coolplanet.org/ConsumersGuidetoCarbonOffsets.pdf

*
Who can help you offset?

Operating from the UK
o www.bestfootforward.com
o www.carbonfootprint.com
o www.carbonneutral.com
o www.carbon-offsets.com
o www.clevel.co.uk
o www.climatecare.org
o www.co2balance.com
o www.ebico.co.uk/equiclimate/equiclimate.htm
o www.global-cool.com
o www.puretrust.org.uk


Operating from Ireland
o www.drivinggreen.com


Operating from Germany
o www.atmosfair.de


Operating from the USA
o www.climatetrust.org
o www.nativeenergy.com
o www.sustainabletravelinternational.org


Holistic Spinner (I hope)

Delete

bluecat


bluecat

geek, level 1
Location: everywhere

Total posts: 5300
Posted:Non: i don't think many people hink that trees are the best way forward, though deforestation IS a massive problem. as accepted by many offset companies, who provide divers project offsetting.

there is a thing called the Gold Standard' that i will find out a bit more about, and get the info online.


Holistic Spinner (I hope)

Delete

georgemc
BRONZE Member since Oct 2006

georgemc

Sitting down facing forward . . .
Location: Christchurch, New Zealand

Total posts: 2387
Posted:Gold Standard: http://www.cdmgoldstandard.org/


Written by: Doc Lightning talking about Marmite in Kichi's Intro thread

I have several large jars of the stuff. I actually like it... a little. And don't tell anyone I admitted to it.
grin

Delete

NOn


activist for HoPper liberation.
Location: ffidrac

Total posts: 1643
Posted: Written by: bluecat


Non: i don't think many people hink that trees are the best way forward, though deforestation IS a massive problem. as accepted by many offset companies, who provide divers project offsetting.

there is a thing called the Gold Standard' that i will find out a bit more about, and get the info online.



yeah, true, the offsetting industry is changing, i think most of the ni examples come from the tree planting, because that's really how it seemed to start off... still i think it's worth reading the articles there.

Lots of good links going on here though too smile

Maybe someone should also start an offset company specifically for fire twirling hippies, since none of them seem to specialise in that sort of thing smile


Aurinko freedom agreement reached 10th Sept 2006

if it makes no sense that's because it's NOn-sense.

Delete

faith enfire
BRONZE Member since Jan 2006

faith enfire

wandering thru the woods of WI
Location: Wisconsin, USA

Total posts: 3556
Posted:revegitation, i think it goes better than reforestation

Faith
Nay, whatever comes one hour was sunlit and the most high gods may not make boast of any better thing than to have watched that hour as it passed

Delete

Dom
BRONZE Member since Dec 2001

Dom

Carpal \'Tunnel
Location: Bristol, UK

Total posts: 3009
Posted:A few random thoughts from myself about choosing an offset provider:

CO2 released by planes carries a theoretical effect multiplier, which nobody truly knows, of about x2 to x5 as the CO2 is released at altitude. So to be truly neutral look into if the offset calculations include this.

There's lots of indirect ways of carbon offset that also benefit your fellow man. And this can also be a thorn in the side of greedy, poor-bashing western power companies!
In many under developed regions of the world countries have had to sell off their utility companies to Western companies, who are after Western profits and hike the cost of electricity & water to amazing levels. It's not uncommon for a family's water and electricity bills to be half their income, at which stage they can't actually afford to turn a light on. Many development charities provide solar panels which reduce not only CO2 output but also stop a poor family having such crippling bills.

Also providing sustenance farmers with better tools and methods prevents them cutting down more trees for new fields. And giving people wood from farmed sources stops them cutting down the richer surrounding forest.

Many reforestation projects plant row upon row of fast growing trees and so fail to develop the proper ecology of a forest. Preventing deforestation and emission is always going to be the best way forward.


Delete

Sym
BRONZE Member since Sep 2004

Sym

Geek-enviro-hippy priest
Location: Diss, Norfolk, United Kingdom

Total posts: 1858
Posted: Written by: Dom


CO2 released by planes carries a theoretical effect multiplier, which nobody truly knows, of about x2 to x5 as the CO2 is released at altitude. So to be truly neutral look into if the offset calculations include this.




The IPCC used 2.7, but I agree that may not be correct.


There's too many home fires burning and not enough trees

Delete

bluecat


bluecat

geek, level 1
Location: everywhere

Total posts: 5300
Posted:If you want to make a difference, you can also do one of the following:

join Greenpeace who lobby for policy change;



join the green party, and/or vote for them.

England and Wales

Scotland



if any of you are of the opinion that 'the greens will never get in': THe Scottish Greens are the fastest growing party in Scotland, and have had MSPs in parliament for the past 8 years, and are hoping to make progress when the elections come around this year....

EDITED_BY: bluecat (1170076594)


Holistic Spinner (I hope)

Delete

Stout
SILVER Member since May 2004

Stout

Pooh-Bah
Location: Canada

Total posts: 1872
Posted:More random thoughts...

The IPCC reports need to be unanimously ratified by 150+ countries including long term "skeptical" countries like the US, and oil producing countries like Saudi Arabia. if anything a factor of 2.7 may be a little low.

Solar panels and 12V technology are a great idea for households in tropical countries where there's no need for household heating or hot water for showers etc. washing machines ( and dryers ) are not common, and cooking is done over open fires or with propane. I don't know how many of you have tried living in a house, in a temperate climate, with solar energy only, but in my experience, it's a real challenge. FYI.. 12V solar systems are usually backed up by a gas powered generator.

Maybe rather than screwing around with offsets, a person might be better off donating that money to a development charity that supplies solar panels instead


Delete

Sym
BRONZE Member since Sep 2004

Sym

Geek-enviro-hippy priest
Location: Diss, Norfolk, United Kingdom

Total posts: 1858
Posted:If you want to make a difference in the UK you can get involved with what your MP is doing.

Remember, it is not their job to do anything in their constituency, it is their job to be your voice and vote in parliament. Being active in the constituency comes second to that and is in some cases very important, but it isn't their job.

You should look at http://www.theyworkforyou.com
and find out about your MP. Look at what they have said in parliament and how they voted to find out about them. Then go to http://www.writetothem.com/
and ask them what they are doing abuot climate change and how much it matters. (note, I'm really pleased to be involved with the people who made those web sites, and I'm working with them making more along the same lines).

Your MP is only going to do something if people show they actually want something done. The pressure will not be there unless everyone makes it for them.

My MP paid for the councillors and local 'community leaders' to see Al Gores film and then the local Lib Dems held an open debate in the town hall about what was being done in Newbury.

From that the council at least knows that there is public support for change. This is not enough, but it's a huge start. There is no reason why your council shouldn't hold the same sort of meeting, and they will if you are active in writing to papers, MPs and councils.

I don't think there is a good way to offset green house gas emissions at all. Some ways are better than others for sure, but the only real solution is to stop causing the emission in the first place. Whatever it is, it is not a way to buy yourself out of guilt (I don't think anyone here thinks it is).

The only way that I can think of to get out of the guilt is to be active at changing peoples minds with clear arguments and to let you MP know that you are concerned about it.

I can't say it enough: if you care about it, join local groups (Greenpeace is one, but I've been put off them by other campaigns) and do something. My local Friends of the Earth group no longer meets, but the guy who runs it (he was a figure head in the Newbury bypass protest) says he gets loads of calls and emails from people wanting to give time or money to help with a campaign. The point is that there are other people who think like you and after a few phone calls you could have 50 people willing to hand out flyers in the street on a weekend.

This stuff is really, really easy to do and change isn't as hard as you might think, just do it!


There's too many home fires burning and not enough trees

Delete