Archive for category Carbon Offsetting

CheatNeutral - a novel take on Carbon Offsetting

I’ve already mentioned that I’m not sure about Carbon Offsetting. There are a few too many ifs and buts in an approach that above all seems to allow people to assuage their consciences by spending money, although as the overall philosophy of this site is that every step taken helps, I would not go as far a discouraging people from using carbon offsetting if they choose. It’s just not my personal solution.

For those who aren’t sure, or if you simply want a good laugh, I thoroughly recommend a visit to Cheatneutral. Built by people who feel that Carbon Offsetting is a total cop-out, this satirical web site proposes the same approach but for those who are in a relationship and have cheated or wish to cheat! The concept is simple: every time you cheat, you make a donation to CheatNeutral - the princely sum of £2.50 - and this money is paid to someone who has volunteered to offset your cheating by remaining faithful to their partner.

OK, it’s based on one idea, and maybe it will get tired after a while, but right now it seems to be getting a fair amount of attention and therefore doing the important job of generating a fair amount of awareness. They claim 65,768 people have offset their cheating to date. That’s revenue of £164,420 if it’s true! They have also had some good coverage in the papers on tv and on the radio.

The only problem I have with the concept is that whilst the message is good, they don’t really offer a clear alternative, and they are not strong enough in their call to action. Firstly the money paid by people is passed on to ‘Offset companies in the voluntary Carbon Market’ - I thought they didn’t believe in offsets.  Secondly, whilst they provide a few links, they don’t really push visitors to do something more positive to reduce their CO2 emissions.

So do go and see CheatNeutral, and do watch the short film. It’s an excellent idea, a great piece of web marketing. The only pity is that what is potentially a well distributed message with the power to make a difference does not go far enough. Potentially thousands of visitors are coming to the site….. and then going no further.

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Cool Earth - a real alternative to Carbon Credits

I’m not a huge fan of Carbon Credits and Carbon Offsetting. I fully appreciate that the principal is valid, and probably has a positive effect: replace the co2 you have emitted by investing in projects that have removed (or will remove) a similar amount, or more, elsewhere in the world. However for me the outcome of such an investment is not tangible enough, not guaranteed enough. Can I be sure that the projects I have invested in at a distance are really reducing the amount of global co2 emitted every day? Personally, it’s not my carbon replacement solution.

That’s why I like Cool Earth. Recently launched, this organisation is based on a simple premise: preserving the rainforests of the earth, known to be the world’s biggest storers of co2, by making parcels of land available to “own” by private individuals, schools, businesses and institutions. Not only can you “buy” an acre of rainforest for only £70, but you can keep an eye on it via Google Maps!

The money you invest is literally used to buy rainforest in order to ensure that it can continue to produce the oxygen and water vital to our planet’s existence, and that it cannot be burnt. Burning a single acre of rainforest releases as much as 260 tonnes of co2 - ten years of an average British family’s co2 emission, and, according to Cool Earth, as much as 100 acres of forest are cleared EVERY MINUTE!

I also like Cool Earth because it relies on people power. Like Reduce Your CO2, the philosophy of the people at Cool Earth is that we can’t just sit around and wait for our governments to tell us how they are going to save the planet. We need to act now, and as individuals it’s easy to do so.

So next time you are feeling guilty about taking yet another plane trip, why not invest in a piece of rainforest. What’s more, you will be able to keep an eye on it without ever having to go there.

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