Thursday, 10 December 2009 17:41

Climate Change Policy Heats Up. Finally!

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I often tell people that Carbonfund.org exists today because socially and environmentally concerned individuals and business leaders stepped up and took action to reduce their climate impact, support burgeoning technologies, and prove to the world that we can tackle climate change -- and do it cost effectively. What makes this more remarkable is that we did this despite a lack of US government leadership over the last three decades on climate change. Just a few years back, academics suggested carbon would cost $50-100 per tonne, a total non-starter for almost any government initiative to reduce emissions. Yet we are here today, talking about Copenhagen, Waxman-Markey and the Senate bill in large part because of the voluntary actions taken by a relatively small group over the last five or six years to prove the concepts, technologies, methodologies, costs and processes. Leadership is about stepping up to the plate when others will not, and I am always amazed and appreciative of our thousands of partners who have done just that. This is why it is so important these early leaders receive credit for their voluntary actions. Their vision and commitment turned into the first offset projects and investments. (I still can’t imagine what it must have been like for the person at a large company to go into their boss’s office a few years ago and say they wanted to offset their electricity use in California by buying these REC-things from Texas, or this carbon offset doohickey from New York.) Finally, we’re making headway. The EPA has approved their first-ever carbon offset project, which Carbonfund.org has supported and brought through the EPA process. The House of Representatives has passed a great bill, thanks to the leadership of Reps. Waxman and Markey and many others, the Senate is working on a similar version, and thousands of delegates from around the world are in Copenhagen to work on a global deal to reduce emissions by about 80% by 2050. We’re at a tipping point and Carbonfund.org must now participate in the national and international policy debates to ensure we maximize carbon reductions and verification while unleashing capital, technology and innovation to achieve these goals as quickly and cost effectively as possible. I am heading to Copenhagen this weekend for the climate talks to help push for a global consensus on massive carbon reductions during my lifetime, not just my kids’. This is a new space for us and we’re working with policy experts to advocate for the best possible legislation in the US on climate change. These next several months will be crucial to our future, and we need the experiences of organizations like Carbonfund.org that have proven the concepts to ensure we get a bill (or treaty) that will work. We’re enlisting the best minds in Washington and as a first step we’re pleased to be working with the Podesta Group, a leading government relations firm, to help Carbonfund.org achieve its objectives. Done right, fighting climate change will create millions of jobs, save taxpayers money, reduce or eliminate our reliance on foreign oil, reduce our overseas defense responsibilities and help the developing world leapfrog on technologies and help their people. It will also clean the air, reduce asthma and other health effects of burning fossil fuels and save us billions in health costs. We’d hoped to get a US climate bill in 2009 but 2010 will work too. We’re just so glad we’re all talking climate policy. Finally!
Thursday, 10 December 2009 16:07

Copenhagen Update: Save Tuvalu!

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"Our islands are disappearing, our coral reefs are bleaching, we are losing our fish supplies. We bring empirical evidence to Copenhagen of what climate change is doing now to our states," -Dessima Williams, a Grenadian diplomat speaking for Alliance of Small Island States
Global warming induced seal level rise is already happening, and in all likelihood will continue for the foreseeable future. To many of us, this is an abstract concept with little everyday relevance - what do I care if the sea rises 3 millimeters a year? Well, 3mm is a lot when you live on an island small island nation that is barely above sea level. In Copenhagen, the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) - a coalition of 43 small and extremely vulnerable Island Nations - has called for a new legally binding treaty that will cap temperature rises to 1.5 degrees C. The proposed agreements to date have focused on a 2.0 degree C temperature increase target. Holding temperature increases to 1.5 degrees would mean stabilizing atmospheric concentrations of CO2 at about 350 parts per million (ppm) - currently, concentrations are at about 387ppm and increasing every year. According to the International Energy Agency, the aggressive shift in the target will add about $10.5 trillion extra in energy-related investment by 2030 - a figure that is untenable to many Nations would would be asked to foot the bill. Many think that the 2.0 degree C temperature increase target is ambitious considering the current pace of action on the global scale. The small island nation of Tuvalu has been a vocal advocate of this aggressive target. This nation's emissions are tiny compared to total global output, and is essentially powerless to stop global warming without a global treaty. For Tuvalu, the issue of global warming and sea level rise is not abstract. It is real and it is happening now. There is a very real possibility that Tuvalu will be inundated and lost to the sea - sinking 3,000 years of history and culture forever. I have never been to Tuvalu and I didn't know where it was in the world before today. But the idea of losing it forever saddens me unspeakably, not only on behalf of the residents of the country and others like it, but also because I may never have the option to explore this tiny island nation. Global warming threatens to relegate nations, peoples, cultures, traditions, foods, animals and so many other things to the history books for good. I hope that our leaders in Copenhagen have the will and commitment to fight to save out climate and the rich diversity of life and cultures it supports. And I hope that as individuals, we are all committed to reducing our carbon footprints today to help make that process a little easier.
Wednesday, 09 December 2009 16:50

Copenhagen Update: Dec. 9, 2009

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"...Emissions are emissions. You've just got to do the math. It's not a matter of politics or morality or anything else. It's just math." - US State Department envoy Todd Stern
As the U.N. Climate talks in Copenhagen heat up, some predictable arguments are starting to play out in real time. There are still major questions as to whether an agreement is going to be reached, and moreover how that agreement should look and function. Tensions at Copenhagen are rising between nations, and particularly between the U.S. and China. Todd Stern, a top U.S. State Department negotiator in Copenhagen sums up the American point of view quite well: "If you look around at what countries in the world, they're actually doing a lot. China has put down a number. It might not be the number everyone would like to see. But it is a significant proposal." Mr. Stern diplomatically states that though commitments have been made by nations, they are not quite enough yet (I assume that he is including the U.S. in his assessment). But currently, the world appears to be waiting for the U.S. to lead, both in terms of action and financial support for green initiatives in developing nations. Developing nations feel as though developed nations have an obligation to do more to reduce emissions, considering developed nations have been spewing massive amounts of CO2 into the atmosphere for centuries now. The U.S. does not believe that developed nations should be penalized for historical emissions because the world was 'ignorant' to the problem of global warming up until modern times. How the world decides to reconcile these disparate positions is the challenge of Copenhagen. Stay tuned to the Carbonfund.org blog for regular Copenhagen updates. Carbonfund.org will reporting live from Copenhagen starting next week so check back regularly and follow us on twitter!
Tuesday, 08 December 2009 16:55

Flowers Change Everything

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This holiday season, nothing shows you care than a carefully chosen floral arrangement that's shipped carbon neutral!  CarbonFree® partner flowerpetal_logoFlowerpetal.com is your same-day flower delivery experts, offering a full range of floral products for every occasion.  Whether it be a birthday, Hanukkah, Christmas, or an anniversary, Flowerpetal.com truly believes that flowers change everything.  You have the option of shopping by the type of product you're looking for, the sentiment you want to convey, or even the occasion you're celebrating! Additionally, if you order before 2pm on weekdays or Noon on Saturdays, you will enjoy same-day delivery for your flower order!  Flowerpetal.com offers a 7 day freshness guarantee, a very safe shopping experience, and offsets the carbon emissions of all of their shipments with Carbonfund.org's shipping program. Send a warm holiday gift this season with a floral arrangement from our partner Flowerpetal.com.  Festives ideas include Christmas or Hanukkah arrangements!
Tuesday, 08 December 2009 10:57

2009 is Fifth Hottest Year on Record

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According to the World Meterological Organization (WMO), the earth is continuing to get warmer. 2009 is in line to be the fifth hottest year on record (the exact ranking may change depending on how these last weeks of the year play out), and the decade from 2000-2009 has been the warmest in recorded history.

The hottest decade on record before the 2000s was the 1990s, and before that the 1980s. Temperature records have been kept using precise instruments since 1850.

The recent WMO press release also states:

"This year above-normal temperatures were recorded in most parts of the continents. Only North America (United States and Canada) experienced conditions that were cooler than average. Given the current figures, large parts of southern Asia and central Africa are likely to have the warmest year on record."
Though the US and Canada experienced cooler temperatures this year, our weather is not indicative of global trends. This release coincides with the Copenhagen climate meetings, where global leaders are well positioned to work out the framework for a legally binding emissions reductions target.
Monday, 07 December 2009 12:24

EPA to Declare Carbon Emissions Dangerous

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According to the Washington Post, the EPA is ready to declare carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases a danger to public health and welfare. This move lays the foundation for government regulation of global warming causing emissions, with or without Congress approving a comprehensive global warming bill. EPA administrator Lisa Jackson is expected to make the announcement today at 1:15pm EST. This announcement will come as the global climate change meeting is getting ready to commence in Copenhagen, Denmark. The United States has taken a number of positive steps recently to demonstrate to both domestic and international observers that America is ready to act on global warming. President Obama recently announced that the US will reduce emissions 17% by 2020. With this new EPA announcement, the Administration appears willing to back that statement up. Though the EPA will have the authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions, how they would actually administer a program is unclear. The current proposals in Congress use a cap-and-trade framework for reducing emissions. The EPA may choose to use the cap-and-trade model, a carbon tax, or other methods to regulate emissions. Giving the EPA this type of discretion over program creation is troublesome to certain constituencies, thus providing added impetus to pass a comprehensive global warming bill through Congress rather than regulation by EPA. The US needs to take action to reduce our country's emissions and the country appears to be well positioned to do so in the near future. With the EPA announcement today, our nation will be one step closer to a clean energy future. Hopefully that helps us in Copenhagen.
I love to shop for my friends and family during the holiday season and I try my best to give presents that are environmentally friendly.  However, there are always those on my list (I have 8 nieces and nephews!) for whom a solar cell phone charger just won’t suffice.  This year I can rest a little easier knowing that I can find the perfect gift for my 10 year old nephew or 3 year old niece while lessening my impact by doing my holiday shopping at EarthMoment.com.  EarthMoment is a no-cost Internet portal that allows customers to purchase their favorite products and services from their favorite online retailers, while fighting climate change with each purchase. EarthMoment provides a way for consumers to offset personal contributions to global climate change. They have teamed up with more than 1,000 companies to offer you 15 million products and services. Each of their company partners pays a commission to EarthMoment, half of which is donated to support Carbonfund.org’s third-party validated carbon reduction projects. With toys, sporting goods, clothing, jewelry, electronics and more available on their site, you are sure to find something that interests you as a gift!  To learn more visit www.earthmoment.com.
care2butterfly-2Care2 is a large online community for taking action and supporting environmental and social causes, including global warming, education, animal welfare, and civil rights.  Recently, Care2 has launched a new way for its members to easily contribute to these great causes for free.  In the Butterfly Rewards Program, members earn credits by taking action on the site and can redeem their credits to buy gifts for the world such as a rehydration salt pack to save a child from dysentery, the planting of a tree, or supporting a carbon reduction project like a wind farm. Randy Paynter, President and Founder of Care2 says, "This program makes it incredibly easy and fun to make a difference - in a very personal way.  Each person can decide which project to support with the credits they earn.  With millions of members taking action across the site, we're excited to see the collective impact we can make." You can learn more about the Butterfly Rewards Program here.  Please join Care2's compassionate community and take real action that makes a difference.  You can sign up here for free. Care2 is a CarbonFree® Partner with Carbonfund.org and offsets their business footprint.  Additionally, they offer a free "click to donate" feature on their site.  For every click, they will offset a pound of carbon dioxide!  Check out click to donate here.