The Problem With Carbon Offset Markets

Here’s an interesting post on the carbon offeset market. The post begins with a criticism about the lack of transparency with Terrapass, and moves onto discussing this problem within the industry in general:

What would be wonderful would be if there could be a genuine market in carbon credits, rather than the inefficient mix of semi-competition and secretiveness which characterizes the status quo. Prices have to become much more transparent than they are now: merchants should sell their carbon offsets not directly to consumers but rather only through a market with real price transparency. At the very least, every trade should be reported to a central price recorder, even if it was sold bilaterally.

Externalities From The Ethanol Boom

We’ve heard the critics say how the ethanol boom is causing the price of many of our food sources to rise. The New York Times reports that the United States is buying less than half the amount of food for aid than it did earlier this decade.

The higher food prices have not only reduced the amount of American food aid for the hungry, but are also making it harder for the poorest people to buy food for themselves, economists and advocates for the hungry say.

“We fear the steady rise of food prices will hit those on the front lines of hunger the hardest,” said Josette Sheeran, executive director of the United Nations World Food Program. The United States is the biggest contributor to the agency.

RechargeIT.org: A Google.org Project

From earlier this week, Google announced plans to invest up to $10 million in green startups and has a request for proposals out.

Google.org is committed to finding innovative transportation solutions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions that cause global warming. Earlier this summer, Google.org launched its RechargeIT Initiative to accelerate the adoption of plug-in hybrid electric vehicles and vehicle-to-grid technology through technical demonstrations, grant-making, advocacy and investments. As part of this initiative, we are issuing a $10 million request for investment proposals (RFP). We plan to invest amounts ranging from $500,000 to $2,000,000 in selected for-profit companies whose innovative approach, team and technologies will enable widespread commercialization of plug-in hybrid electric vehicles, electric vehicles and/or vehicle-to-grid solutions. This RFP is global in scope, and we encourage responses from companies anywhere in the world.

This is great news, adding more potential investment dollars to the already fired-up alternative energy sector.

Earth2Tech- New Blog About Technology, Innovation, and Climate Change

There’s a new blog on our radar–

To put it cogently, Earth2Tech is a blog that covers green tech.
The new blog published by the Gigaom team was covered in this weekend’s New York Times.

The blog is “devoted to the business of clean technologies, its innovations and everything else,” he explained on his main technology-business blog, GigaOM (gigaom.com). Earth2Tech, he wrote, examines the clean-tech start-ups that are mushrooming in Silicon Valley and around the world, as well as the environmental initiatives of big companies like Google and Wal-Mart.

Citi Will Plant A Tree On Your Behalf If You Go Paperless

I love seeing programs like this. In conjunction with The National Arbor Day Foundation, Citi will plant a tree on your behalf if you enroll in paperless statements. Here’s the text from the message:

Enroll in Paperless Statements today, and Citi will plant a tree on your behalf.

Maybe you recycle. Maybe you drive a hybrid car. Then again, maybe you don’t. That’s why Citi has created an easy way for you to help protect our environment.

When you enroll in Paperless Statements, Citi will donate one tree on your behalf to the National Arbor Day Foundation, who will then work to plant your tree where it’s needed most. By replenishing our national forests, you’ll be taking a significant step in keeping our air and water clean. In fact, the net cooling effect of a young, healthy tree is equivalent to ten room-size air conditioners operating 20 hours a day (US Dept of Agriculture).

Zerofootprint Fights Global Warming Through Technology And Innovation

Zerofootprint is a non-profit that “combines the best financial engineering, environmental engineering, social networking tools and business intelligence to create products and services that help large corporations, organizations and individuals significantly reduce their environmental footprint.”

Zerofootprint sells carbon offsets and also raises awareness about Global Warming by leveraging technology. They offer widgets, white-label web solutions, and other tools to help get Global Warming on everyone’s radar. Their website also features a community based website and a blog.

The carbon offsets idea is similar to the Terrapass model but Zerofootprint goes an additional step further by leveraging Web 2.0 tools to fight Global Warming.

The Canary Project Revisited

Last year I wrote about The Canary Project in a post about Global Warming. They’ve recently launched a new awareness campaign– here is the info:

The Canary Project has continued its work, and I thought you might like to share its latest awareness campaign – Increase Your Albedo – with your readers.

Albedo is the scientific measure of reflectivity. The higher the Earth’s albedo, the more solar radiation gets reflected and the cooler the Earth stays- like wearing a white t-shirt on a hot day is cooler than wearing a black one.

This campaign encourages wearing white to “increase your albedo” in a statement against global warming.

There are a lot of events planned surrounding the campaign, which you can learn about here:

http://www.canary-project.org/albedo/

Michael Dell Promotes Energy Offsets


Michael Dell announced a program called “Plant A Tree for Me” which will ask customers purchasing Dell computers to donate money to the Conservation Fund and Carbonfund, which both promote ways to reduce or offset carbon emissions by planting trees. I’m big on tree planting, having spent countless hours planting hundreds of trees with TreePeople back in my youth, so I like this program.

A key aspect of this program that needs to be highlighted is that Dell is putting the decision to contribute on the buyer, and not giving a percentage of computer sales to the Tree program. Although it seems like a weaker move model, I don’t think it’s a big deal because Dell is currently under enormous financial pressure to perform. The distribution they are giving to these non-profits is a value added service and the company deserves kudos for that.

Weekend Global Warming Links

Wired News has an article about how warmer ocean temperatures are impacting ecosystems in the Pacific.

The failure of last year’s Pacific upwelling killed seabirds from California to British Columbia. Scientists had hoped the change was just a natural temperature fluctuation in what is known as the California Current.

But the return of higher ocean temperatures and scarce food resources this year has scientists wondering whether last year’s erratic weather was not a fluke but the emergence of a troubling trend.

LiveScience reports on thumb sized sea creatures called salps, which are thought to play a key role in transporting greenhouse gases deep into the oceans.

Madin and his colleagues have now estimated that “hotspots” of salps could spell a dead-end for carbon, transporting tons of it daily from the ocean surface to the deep sea and preventing it from re-entering the atmosphere and contributing again to the greenhouse effect and possibly to global warming.