In the world's largest rainforest, the Purus Project involves numerous local and international partners that will protect nearly 90,000 acres from slash-and-burn forest clearing and prevent a million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions. 

Avoided deforestation projects are critical because about 20 percent of global warming is attributed to deforestation, which reduces the Earth's capacity to absorb carbon dioxide. Moreover, fallen trees decompose and release methane, a heat-trapping gas about 23 times more potent than CO2. 

The Purus Project was successfully validated to the Verified Carbon Standard (VCS) and to the Climate, Community and Biodiversity Standard (CCBS) with Gold Distinction in January 2013.  The Project was then successfully verified to the VCS and CCBS in December 2013 and October 2014.  The Project is now being reviewed for its third verification to assess the Project’s performance from January 1st, 2014 to December 31st, 2014. 

To review the complete Project Documents and to submit comments between Tuesday, July 14th and Thursday, August 13th, please visit: http://www.climate-standards.org/2012/10/20/the-purus-project-a-tropical-forest-conservation-project-in-acre-brazil/

The Purus Project is a Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation (REDD+) project that will preserve the area's rich biodiversity, including scarlet macaws, Amazon River dolphins and squirrel monkeys.  There are also a variety of social projects and activities to mitigate deforestation pressures and benefit the local communities.  In addition, the Purus Project will provide essential ecosystem services such as erosion control and water filtration. 

Climate, community and biodiversity benefits between January 1st, 2014 and December 31st, 2014 included, but were not limited to: a reduction in the Project Area’s deforestation; preservation of biologically diverse habitats; completion of a biodiversity study using motion-sensitive wildlife camera traps; installation of a permanent phone at the Project headquarters; medical assistance provided to approximately 180 local community members; and initiation of granting official land title to several local communities. 

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emerginC is a simple story of emerging, which began in 1996 with one of the most stable and effective vitamin C serums to emerge on the market. The buzz about the product began to spread and emerginC started to grow by word of mouth. More products emerged -- two, then four, then eight -- and now emerginC has approximately 80 products and a wide variety of cost-effective treatment options from both the emerginC signature and scientific organics product lines.  All the while, emerginC never compromised a commitment to quality and effectiveness - and to environmental sustainability - and the company continues to emerge. 

For the past six years, emerginC has been a Carbonfree® Business Partner, neutralizing almost 460,000 pounds of greenhouse gases through supporting Carbonfund.org’s clean air and carbon emissions reduction projects around the world.  This reduction in carbon emissions has the impact as planting 5350 trees and letting them grow and absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere for ten years.

"We take many steps to minimize our impact on the environment. Our corporate office runs on wind power, our product boxes and brochures are made from paper from well-managed forests, printed with vegetable inks, and we ship our orders with biodegradable packing 'peanuts',” explains Ian Lirenman, CEO and Founder of emerginC.  “We chose Carbonfund.org because of their efficiency, the on-the-ground solutions they deliver and the fact that they don't engage in carbon offset trading."  

The folks at emerginC have taken a leading role in giving back and in sustainability with the "buy one, plant one" tree planting program, and the company also includes packets of emerginCeeds with every US domestic order to help customers start their own vegetable garden with USDA organic mixed lettuce or arugula seeds. 

The company started an emerginBees bee habitat initiative to help combat Colony Collapse Disorder among US bee colonies.  Many medicines, both conventional and alternative remedies, come from flowering plants. Without the bees to spread the seeds, many plants - including food crops - will die off.   The emerginBees seedbombs are a combination of compost and clay that acts as a carrier for the seeds. They can be launched over walls or fences and into inaccessible areas such as wasteland or along railways.  emerginC makes every effort to source products and ingredients ethically and sustainably wherever possible, including the use of fair trade ingredients. 

As a way to help drastically reduce the number of plastic bottles used around the world, emerginC is moving away from plastic product packaging and using glass bottles as an alternative. The company is now headquartered in its own building near the waterfront in Brooklyn, NY, with weekly yoga classes, rooftop vegetables, flowers, and chickens that give the staff organic eggs all year round.

 

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This year will mark Dolphin Blue’s 5th anniversary as a Carbonfree® Business Partner.  The staff at Dolphin Blue is proud and honored to continue offsetting operational emissions with Carbonfund.org and has decided to take it a step further by purchasing an additional 36 metric tonnes of carbon offsets to neutralize projected annual operating emissions.  Including these latest offsets purchased, Dolphin Blue has neutralized almost 718,000 pounds of greenhouse gases, equivalent to the carbon dioxide sequestered by planting 8350 tree seedlings and growing them for ten years.    

Dolphin Blue has come a long way these past 5 years, by expanding their business offerings to include all-green, no harm products for household cleaning, lawn and garden care, pet care, children’s toys and body care that are produced with a minimal carbon emissions. Every product that Dolphin Blue carries is made from post-consumer recycled content, requiring less energy to produce, and is made in the USA, which means fewer emissions, compared to products made from virgin materials and imported from other countries. 

Dolphin Blue supports initiatives that foster education and awareness in issues of sustainability, energy alternatives, organic agriculture and reducing waste.   Dolphin Blue wants everyone who visits their website to be educated on why they are purchasing these items and the difference buying one eco-friendly product can make. 

Dolphin Blue also is honored to be associated with organizations such as B Corporation, Green Chamber of Commerce, EPA Green Power Partner, Chlorine Free Products Association, North Texas Clean Air Coalition, Green Source DFW, and the Voluntary Renewable Energy Coalition.

For over 20 years, Dolphin Blue has continued to conduct business always respecting the natural world in which we live, and they ask their customers and other businesses to do the same. That’s why Dolphin Blue is encouraging other B Corps to go above and beyond by offsetting their companies’ annual operational emissions and educating their customers on the importance of reducing their individual carbon footprint. 

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This month, Carbonfund.org celebrates our 10th anniversary!  In honor of this accomplishment, we’re urging our donors, supporters and business partners to plant 10 trees, and we’ll match your effort by planting 10 additional trees, now through 11/3/2013.

We are happy, proud and especially thankful for all of our supporters.  We appreciate partnering with you to combat global warming.  Making the choice to "reduce what you can, offset what you can't" makes you a critical part of the climate change solution.

Many people don’t know that deforestation is responsible for roughly 20% of global warming.  Fortunately, planting trees has a multitude of benefits; chief of which is absorbing carbon dioxide to reduce climate change.

Birthday cake and cards are great, but let’s plant more trees to celebrate our 10th anniversary.  Don’t forget we’ll add 10 trees and double your impact on reducing global warming.

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Last week our planet reached a scary milestone for carbon dioxide, the most important global warming gas.  The average carbon dioxide reading exceeded 400 parts per million at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Mauna Loa Observatory (MLO) on the island of Hawaii for the 24 hours that ended at 8:00 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time on Thursday, May 9, 2013.  Earth hasn’t had this much carbon dioxide concentrated in the air for at least three million years, which is before human life on the planet.

This should be a wakeup call that major and potentially catastrophic global weather changes are coming and a sign we’re not doing enough to tackle climate change.

We’ve seen carbon dioxide levels above 400 parts per million in the Arctic last year and even in some hourly readings at NOAA’s MLO.  However, this is the first time we’ve seen the average reading for an entire day exceed that level.  Carbon dioxide levels do rise and fall along with the seasons.  As foliage grows over the summer in the Northern Hemisphere, 10 billion tons of carbon will be pulled out of the air.  But it’s only a temporary pardon in a situation that’s becoming direr by the moment.

We simply must invest in alternative energy technologies and begin curbing our dangerous global appetite for fossil fuels.  Otherwise, the time will come soon where no measurement of the ambient air anywhere on earth, in any season, will produce a reading below 400.

The official target to limit the damage from global warming is 450 parts per million (PPM), which is generally agreed to be the maximum level compatible with that goal.  Our relentless, long-term increases in carbon dioxide emissions are likely get us to 450 PPM in well under 25 years.  The time to slow down global warming is dwindling quickly.  Twenty five years may seem like a long time, but our planet is huge.  It will take more time than that to right the ship.

Not every country has agreed to set binding emissions targets, either.  Unfortunately, the United States count among those shirking their responsibility.  Now greater efforts are necessary, and are all but impossible without severe economic disruptions.

Can we live on a planet that is warmer and wetter?  Probably, but billions of people are going to suffer as we make the transition.  It’s a better plan to lower our carbon footprints and speedily move to no and low carbon energy sources.  The price is going to be high either way, and it’s only getting steeper as we hurtle towards the point of no return.

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Sometimes the sun doesn’t shine or the wind doesn’t blow, temporarily stalling renewable energy production.  When that happens, what fuel source fills in the energy gap?  Traditionally the answer was coal, but due to increased supply and low prices, the answer of late has been natural gas.  Coal is certainly the dirtier of the two fossil fuels, but natural gas is not a perfect choice either.  The increased supply in natural gas was achieved through the process of hydraulic fracturing (called fracking), which can be harmful to the environment.

Last spring natural gas prices fell to all-time lows of $2 to $3 per thousand cubic feet in the United States.  This spring natural gas prices are on the rise.  In fact, they’ve doubled to just over $4 per thousand cubic feet, but the bottom line is natural gas is still pretty cheap.  Experts say prices in the $4 or $5 range won’t affect the increasing use of the fuel by consumers and the energy industry since the price was $8 just a few years ago.  In Europe and Asia prices are even higher; think $10 to $14.

According to a Citibank research report, “Gas and renewables could in fact be the making of each other in the short term.”  Expect renewables to cost about the same as conventional fuels in many parts of the world “in the very near term.”  Mark Brownstein, an associate vice president at the Environmental Defense Fund, noted that the price of renewable energy has declined substantially in recent years, and that’s expected to continue, making them even more competitive.  As demand for renewables builds, it will in turn “drive demand for more gas-fired” power plants to be used as backup.

Meanwhile, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) missed an April 13 deadline to issue much-anticipated new rules limiting carbon dioxide emissions from new power plants.  Proposed a year ago, the rules were first to set limits on greenhouse gas emissions from new plants.  Once a limit is set for new facilities, the EPA is legally obligated to address existing plants, which pose the true climate threat at the moment.  The US’ power plant fleet is the single biggest source of greenhouse gas emissions in the world.  Acting EPA Administrator Bob Perciasepe said last week that the agency expects to propose new rules on greenhouse gases from existing plants in fiscal 2014.

The draft rule for new power plants sets a limit of 1,000 pounds of carbon dioxide per megawatt-hour of electricity.  That cutoff point would be easy for natural-gas-fired plants to meet, but not conventional coal plants.  Already, power companies build natural gas plants almost exclusively because of the low price of gas. 

There is speculation that the EPA’s indefinite delay on the new rules limiting carbon dioxide emissions from new power plants is due to second thoughts at the EPA and the White House over the single standard.  The EPA is said to be contemplating setting two standards, one for coal plants and the other for natural gas, which might make the new rule more legally defensible in an attempt to avert the inevitable legal wrangling that goes on whenever the EPA sets a new rule including limitations.

Environmental groups argue that separate standards make little sense.  “Setting a separate standard for coal- and natural-gas-fired plants would greatly weaken the standard’s ability to ensure a transition away from building high-carbon electricity-generation sources,” said economist Rachel Cleetus of the Union of Concerned Scientists.

Natural gas may be the interim answer as we build our renewable energy infrastructure and then the backup once we move to a sustainable energy future.  For the sake of slowing down climate change, the EPA needs to set the rules on new electricity generation plants posthaste.  Then they should tackle existing power plants without delay.  Global warming won’t wait.

Published in carbonfree blog
Friday, 22 March 2013 13:43

The Psychology of Climate Change

Regular readers of this blog are all too aware of the dangers that are starting to manifest regarding global warming.  Given the reality of 2012 being the hottest year on record, and other climate change related disasters such as Superstorm Sandy, why isn’t more being done domestically and globally to avert this crisis?  The answer is in our psychology as humans.

Anthony Leiserowitz, Director of the Yale Project on Climate Change Communication and a Research Scientist at the School of Forestry and Environmental Studies at Yale University, specializes in human behavior, in particular the psychology of risk perception and decision making as it relates to global warming.  He is an expert on U.S. and international perception of climate change risks, support and opposition for climate policies, and willingness to make individual behavioral change.  Leiserowitz points to humans’ needs to tangibly experience phenomena in order to connect with it on a deeper level.  The first problem with the issue is that we cannot see carbon dioxide.  Perhaps if we could see blue smoke, for example, billowing around us we would be more motivated to immediately tackle global warming.

The climate change problem is further complicated by its faceless nature.  There isn’t one country or person we can point to as causing global warming.  We are all responsible on a daily basis.  Then add to that there’s the fact that climate change is not an immediate threat.  It’s certainly becoming one, but it takes time for the planet to heat up and we are fast approaching the point of no return.

Many people do not understand how a few degrees one way or the other will make a difference to the planet.  Leiserowitz likened it to a fever in an episode titled, “Encore: Ending the Silence on Climate Change” this month on Bill Moyer & Company.  “People often will say, ‘Wow, you know, four, five degrees, that doesn't sound like very much. I mean, I see the temperature change more from night to day.’  But it's the wrong way to think about it. I mean, think about when you get sick and you get a fever, okay. Your body is usually at, you know, 98.7 degrees.”

He continued to say, “If your temperature rises by one degree you feel a little off, but you can still go to work. You're fine. It rises by two degrees and you're now feeling sick, in fact you're probably going to take the day off because you definitely don't feel good. And in fact, you're getting everything from hot flashes to cold chills, okay.  At three you're starting to get really sick. And at four degrees and five degrees your brain is actually slipping into a coma, okay, you're close to death. I think there's an analogy here of that little difference in global average temperature just like that little difference in global body temperature can have huge implications as you keep going. And so unfortunately the world after two and especially after three degrees starts getting much more frightening, and that's exactly what the scientists keep telling us. But will we pay attention to those warning signs?”

My next blog post will discuss how to effectively communicate about climate change to overcome some of the psychological challenges humans face outlined in this post.  There are ways to get the public to pay attention to, and in fact, engage on the issue of global warming.  However, there is an art to it.

Published in carbonfree blog
Friday, 08 March 2013 13:43

Global Energy Focus on Renewables

Those of us living in the United States can easily get wrapped up in the domestic energy picture, but it is important to stop and take a look at how renewables are doing in other countries too.

If you peruse a list of countries by 2008 emissions, the top emitter of carbon dioxide is currently China, followed closely by the U.S.  China accounts for 23.5% of world emissions, and the U.S. is responsible for 18.27%.  However, the good news is that China’s renewable-energy industry is currently on the upswing due to supportive government policies and generous subsidies; so much so that they’ve achieved the height of the world’s wind and solar industries.  We’ve all heard the phrase, “Everything is made in China.”  The U.S. does import many goods from China, but a report released this week titled, “Advantage America” analyzed trade between the two countries in solar, wind and smart-grid technology and services in 2011. 

The analysis, by Bloomberg New Energy Finance and Pew Charitable Trusts, showed $6.5 billion in renewable energy technology and services traded between the U.S. and China.  But the U.S. sold $1.63 billion more to China than it imported. 

It’s good to see both countries making such strides in renewable energy.  Oftentimes, the countries are perceived as being in competition with one another, but a more accurate picture would be that they are interdependent.  The bottom line is that both countries should be doing as much as possible to focus on renewables, especially considering they’re the top two carbon dioxide emitters on the planet.  And the global interest and investments in renewables doesn’t stop there.

Saudi Arabia, a country with the world's second largest oil reserves, is beginning a green revolution.  This week, Saudi King Abdullah revealed ambitious plans to develop renewable energy programs that will produce 54,000 megawatts of electricity by 2032 as part of a strategy to save 1.2 million barrels of their oil per day for export.

King Abdullah City for Atomic and Renewable Energy (KA-Care) is a strategy paper set up by King Abdullah in 2010 to develop alternative energy sources so the country won't have to burn millions of barrels of oil a year on power generation.  KA-Care outlines the preliminary phases of the kingdom's agenda for its energy future and focuses on thermal solar, photo-voltaic solar, wind, geothermal and waste-to-energy.  Much of the desert landscape in the Persian Gulf is well suited to solar energy production; a fact that has not escaped the Saudi’s neighbor, the United Arab Emirates (UAE). 

The UAE, with 8% of the world's proven oil reserves, has also embarked on a major renewables program, which focuses on nuclear and solar energy production.  By taking a look at the global energy picture, we see that even those countries with vast fossil fuel resources recognize the finite limitations of their reserves and the importance of investing in sustainable energy projects, which is great news in the fight against climate change.  Every country on the planet contributes to global warming, and every country will have to do their part in order to pave the way to a sustainable energy future.

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Most of the time, we do not take into account the complete costs to producing or consuming a good or service.  This is because we focus on the explicit costs.  For example, if we were to bake a loaf of bread, we would take into account the cost of the flour, yeast, sugar, salt, water, milk, and butter.  Perhaps we would even calculate our labor time to make the dough and the cost of running the oven, but would we account for the carbon dioxide dumped into the atmosphere for the delivery truck that delivered the baking supplies?  How about the CO2 emissions from the power plant burning fossil fuels to generate the electricity to run the oven?  The problem is that we are not required to bear the full cost of production.  Some of the costs to bake that loaf of bread were shifted to society as a whole. 

Even if we did not bake the loaf of bread ourselves, we’re still shifting costs to society as a whole just by consuming it.  Our cars burn gasoline to drive to and from the grocery store, and regardless if we walked or biked, gasoline was likely also burned to deliver the bread to the grocery store in the first place.  Sure the delivery truck paid for the gasoline, but many companies do not pay for the carbon emissions their operations generate.

We need to make some drastic changes to avoid the ills of global warming, which we are beginning to see affect our daily lives, but the logistics of transforming our world’s energy system can be intimidating.  The first thing we need to do is get off fossil fuels and transition to renewable energy sources.  Easier said than done, I know.  It will be a complex and time-consuming process converting power plants, vehicles/transport systems, homes and commercial buildings.  Unfortunately, time is not on our side here.  We really need to reduce carbon emissions 80% by 2050. 

So then the question becomes how can we transition the world’s energy infrastructure to sustainable sources by mid-century?  One of the ways suggested is to implement a tax on CO2 emissions that begins low and gradually increases.  There should be no mystery either about how much and at what intervals over time the tax will rise.  Then people, businesses and governments can plan their fossil fuel exit strategy.

The revenues the carbon tax generates should be directed into subsidizing renewable energy innovation and overhauling energy infrastructure. 

Ideally, the carbon tax should be global.  Again there are logistical challenges to this climate change solution.  The key is that we need a systematic and practical process.  Isn’t it time we started taking responsibility for the full costs of production and consumption?  Society is bearing the cost as a whole, and society as a whole needs to be part of the solution.

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Ever wonder how large facilities in your state are doing regarding greenhouse gas emissions?  The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) began collecting greenhouse gas emissions data in 2010 under the congressionally mandated Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Reporting Program.  In February 2013, the EPA's program released its second year (2011) of emissions data, which provides public access to emissions data by sector, by greenhouse gas, and by geographic region such as county or state.

The 2011 data includes information from facilities in 41 source categories that emit large quantities of greenhouse gasses.  New this year is data collected from 12 additional source categories, including petroleum and natural gas systems and coal mines.

Highlights of findings from the 2011 data include:

  • Power plants represent approximately one-third (33 percent) of total U.S. GHG emissions, making them the largest stationary source of GHGs in the country
    • 2011 emissions from power plants were roughly 4.6 percent below 2010 emissions, demonstrating an ongoing increase in power generation from natural gas and renewable energy sources
    • Refineries represented the third-largest source of GHG emissions, which increased by a half of a percent over 2010 data
    • Overall emissions reported from the 29 sources tracked in both years were 3 percent lower in 2011 than in 2010

Transparency is critical to a better environment and the key to conquering climate change.  If companies, communities and individuals take a look at how large facilities are doing in terms of greenhouse gas emissions and compare the latest data to national averages, perhaps we can find ways to cut these emissions and begin to curb global warming.  Being better informed is also good for the businesses as they may identify opportunities to conserve energy and thereby save money.

Check out how individual large facilities in your state, county, and even zip code perform.  Access this data through the Facility Level Information on Green House gases Tool (FLIGHT), which is a web-based data publication tool, or dig deeper through the EPA’s online database Envirofacts that allows information searches via zip code.

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