We all have a carbon footprint that contributes to global warming so all of us must be part of the solution
A carbon footprint is a measure of the impact human activities have on the environment in terms of the amount of green house gases (GHG) produced, measured in units of carbon dioxide. It is important for individuals and organizations to calculate their personal or organizational carbon footprint to determine their impact on global warming.
Carbon offsets, or the mitigation of carbon emissions through the development of energy conservation projects can be a simple and effective tool to offset carbon emissions and fight global warming. An example of such a project is the CFL Bulb Carbon Offset Program™ which replaces energy guzzling incandescent lights with energy efficient CFL bulbs.
An individual or organization becomes carbon neutral when the amount of carbon released is balanced with the amount eliminated and offset so the carbon footprint becomes zero. The Kyoto Protocol has sanctioned carbon offsets as a way for governments and private companies to earn carbon credits which can be traded in the marketplace.
Carbon offsetting as part of a carbon neutral culture has gained appeal and momentum among forward looking individuals and organizations that have become aware and concerned about the negative environmental effects of energy-intensive lifestyles, companies and economies.
What Contributes to a Carbon Footprint?
To be considered carbon neutral, an individual or organization must reduce its carbon footprint to zero. Generally, direct emission sources must be reduced and offset completely, while indirect emissions from purchased electricity can be reduced with renewable energy purchases.
Direct company emissions include all pollution from manufacturing, company owned vehicles, reimbursed travel and any other source that is directly controlled by the owner. Indirect emissions include all emissions that result from the use or purchase of a product.
For instance, the direct emissions of an airline are all the jet fuel that is burned, while the indirect emissions include all the electricity used to operate the airline's office, and the daily emissions from employee travel to and from work. In this case, the power company has a direct emission of greenhouse gas, while the office that purchases it considers it an indirect emission.
The World Resource Institute, in addition to publishing many tables and help aids for calculating carbon footprints, only requires direct emissions to be reduced and balanced for carbon neutral status. However, there is encouragement to include all emissions sources. With this accounting, there are essentially two levels of carbon neutrality: Either all direct and indirect emissions, or only direct emissions.
How to Become Carbon Neutral
When an individual or an organization sets out to become carbon neutral it is usually achieved by combining the following three steps: carbon footprint
- Limiting energy usage and emissions from transportation (walking, using bicycles or public transport, avoiding flying, using low-energy vehicles), as well as from buildings, equipment and processes
- Obtaining electricity from a renewable energy source either directly by generating it (e.g. installing solar panels on the roof) or by selecting an approved green energy provider, and by using low-carbon alternative fuels such as biofuels
- Offsetting the remaining carbon emissions that can not be avoided or generated from renewables in a responsible carbon project such as the CFL Bulb Carbon Offset Program™, or by buying carbon credits.
Carbon Offsetting Options
Several carbon offset methods are in use. While tree planting was initially a mainstay of carbon offsetting, renewable energy, energy conservation and methane capture offsets have become increasingly popular.
Many tree planting carbon offset projects have been conceived or conducted in ways that are vulnerable to criticism, drawing their net benefits into question. Significant concern also arises over the permanence of carbon storage in trees and forests, as potential future clearing or burning of the forest would return the stored carbon to the atmosphere.
According to Ken Caldeira, a study co-author from the Carnegie Institution:
"To plant forests outside of the tropics to mitigate climate change is a waste of time. To prevent climate change, we need to transform our energy system. It is only by transforming our energy system and preserving natural habitat, such as forests, that we can maintain a healthy environment. To prevent climate change, we must focus on effective strategies and not just ‘feel-good’ strategies."
As noted above, the energy conservation option as a preferred method to reduce carbon footprints has gained significant support and momentum. Specifically, reducing energy consumption by replacing energy hungry incandescent lights with energy efficient CFL bulbs has become very popular. This is due to the enormous potential to increase energy savings and reduce pollution by simply changing light bulbs! An example of this is the CFL Bulb Carbon Offset Program™ which we initiated.
Various organizations have undertaken a variety of creative measures to encourage the adoption of CFLs. In addition, governments across the globe have taken or are considering strong measures to encourage adoption of CFLs or to entirely displace incandescent light bulbs. Ireland will be the first country to implement a ban in 2009 and Australia will phase out incandescent lights by 2010. USA and Canada has also committed to phasing out incandescent lights starting in 2012.
Examples of Carbon Neutral Companies, Organizations, Artists, & Countries
Being carbon neutral is increasingly seen as good corporate or state social responsibility and a growing list of companies and states are announcing dates for when they intend to become fully neutral. Some corporate examples include: Dell, PepsiCo, Google, Yahoo!, Mozilla, Expedia, Orbitz, Nike, HSBC, ING Group, Tesco, Salesforce.com, Discover Communications, Amtrak, Credo Mobile, Eagle Eye Tours, Bic, Yakima MTC and Butterfield & Robinson.
Events such as the G8 Summit and organizations like the World Bank are also using offset programs to become carbon neutral. Artists like The Rolling Stones and Pink Floyd have made albums or tours carbon neutral.
In July 2007, Vatican City became the first carbon neutral state in the world, following the politics of the Pope to eliminate global warming. The Central American nation of Costa Rica aims to be fully carbon neutral before 2030.
Now you can also join this noteworthy list of carbon neutral entities by participating in the CFL Bulb Carbon Offset Program™. By doing the right thing, you will send a strong message about your green commitment to your customers, employees and vendors and enhance your company reputation, brand and business performance.
The CFL Bulb Carbon Offset Program™ Advantage
While carbon offsets which fund renewable energy projects help lower the carbon intensity of energy supply, our CFL Bulb energy conservation project seeks to reduce the overall demand for energy. When you participate in the CFL Bulb Carbon Offset Program TM, you offset your carbon emissions by donating CFL bulbs.
This unique program empowers you to donate CFL bulbs to anyone you choose to offset your carbon. As an individual, you can donate CFL bulbs to your family, friends, neighbors and charitable organizations. As an organization, you can donate CFL bulbs to employees, customers, businesses and vendors to create goodwill and promote your business while reducing your carbon emissions and showing environmental leadership. Now that’s a gift that keeps on giving both to the giver and receiver!
No matter who you choose to give CFL bulbs, your donation of CFL bulbs to offset your carbon emissions will be totally transparent. You will know exactly where your money went since you will be making that decision. Also, since our program is very simple and there are no ‘middle men’ involved, it offers one of the lowest cost carbon offsets in the world. These key benefits make our CFL Bulb Carbon Offset Program™ unique and differentiate us from our competitors. If you buy carbon offsets from other companies, it will cost you more and you may not be sure where your money went or how it was spent.