This Sunday approximately 35,000 protesters gathered on the National Mall to march past the White House and demand action on climate change.  The Forward on Climate Change march was said to be the largest climate rally in U.S. history.  Protestors organized by groups such as Sierra Club and 350.org’s aim was to urge President Obama to reject the Keystone XL pipeline project and set limits on carbon pollution from both new and existing power plants.  Last year, the EPA proposed limits only on new plants.

For quite some time, Congress has remained gridlocked on the issue of climate change.  President Obama has promised to tackle the problem on more than one occasion, but perhaps we the people should consider the effect we can have on bringing about meaningful change.  Top down efforts are certainly necessary, but we should all be supporting more bottom up efforts as well.  After all, that’s how broad changes have been achieved before. 

Take for instance the Civil Rights movement.  The White House and Congress were encouraged to overcome their extensive political reservations and bring about true change on the issues of racial equality and voting rights only after a strong grass-roots movement led at the local level by activists such as the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. changed public opinion and made it politically unacceptable to do nothing.

There are other examples of successful grass-roots movements, but the core message is that we have to begin leveraging our bottom up power.  This weekend’s rally was a great start.  Let’s build on the momentum and begin organized, local activism, especially in the districts and states of those members of Congress that are hesitant to act on global warming. 

We cannot expect President Obama to do all of the work on combating climate change.  Everyone can do their part at the local level and even in their own homes.  Let’s also lessen the demand for energy.  We live in such a blessed country, but using less energy and being more efficient is in everyone’s best interests.  Here are some good ways to start reducing your carbon footprint, and then you can also go carbon neutral and offset the rest.

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) delivered the yearly update of the High-Risk Series report to Congress this week, which officially elevated the threat of climate change.  The report contains the greatest threats the government faces in carrying out federal programs, and the GAO is responsible for identifying items such as flaws in the defense contracting process and health care program fraud.

This year the GAO believed it had to highlight the risk from climate change despite some members of Congress’ dismissal or outright denial of global warming.  Regardless if some in Congress do not like the move, the GAO is supported by the information coming from the National Academy of Sciences and even from the federal government's own global change research program.  The GAO did, however, sidestep the issue of what is causing climate change.  Instead they focus on urging lawmakers to prepare, and most of all, budget for more disasters.

The number of disasters in 2012 was above 90, a record number.  The federal government’s exposure to the increasing number of disasters from extreme weather brought about by global warming includes owning hundreds of thousands of buildings, the operation of defense installations, financial disaster assistance to local governments, and managing crop and flood insurance programs.

Even if the lawmakers cannot agree on climate change, the fact is that a wide variety of disasters are on the increase and Congress has not planned or budgeted for them.  The time for ignoring the issue is past.  Hopefully Congress will heed the warnings and begin addressing our country’s part of global warming in a meaningful way.  If they do not, the issue may be taken out of their hands.  President Obama said in this week’s State of the Union address that, “I urge this Congress to get together, pursue a bipartisan, market-based solution to climate change, like the one John McCain and Joe Lieberman worked on together a few years ago.  But if Congress won’t act soon to protect future generations, I will.”

Various studies have shown that a healthier lifestyle leads to a lower personal carbon footprint.  Mother Nature Network cites five specific ways in which a person’s lifestyle choices and fitness can affect the environment and consumption of natural resources. 

There are many options available for fitness instruction and nutritional counseling.  CarbonFree® Business Partner BodyWorks Lifestyle, with five locations in the greater Orange County and Los Angeles area, provides fitness plans and environmental leadership to its clients and to the fitness industry.  BodyWorks Lifestyle is not just about fitness, it’s about taking control—of your weight, your stress levels, your nutrition, your choices and your health, to reach your goals for overall wellness and personal training while reducing your carbon footprint and negative impact on the environment.

BodyWorks Lifestyle has chosen to take a leadership position in the fitness and healthy living industry by offsetting its annual operational emissions, supporting Carbonfund.org’s forestry projects around the world.  They also donate 1% of their annual profits back to the planet and use environmentally friendly household cleaning products at their facility. 

"We chose to partner with Cabonfund.org because we believed that, as a company, if we were to lead by example and help offset our carbon footprint, we could encourage our clients and business partners to do the same,” explains Huw Lloyd Davies, Founder of BodyWorks Lifestyle and a life-long fitness and outdoor enthusiast.  “We believe that we all need to do our part to bring about sustainable change."

BodyWorks Lifestyle fitness coaches promote nutrition supplements and organic foods, environmentally renewable clothing suppliers, and run seminars on home energy efficiency for their clients.  They also offer a wide range of outdoor fitness events to help clients develop their commitment to a more active lifestyle while learning what they can do to protect the natural resources in their community.

If your New Year’s resolutions include a renewed commitment to a healthy lifestyle, and a lower personal carbon footprint, start your exercise regime today, “green” your eating habits, and consider offsetting your annual work commuting or vehicle mileage through Carbonfund.org.

Recent research by a team from Tel Aviv University employed three NASA satellites to measure pollutants in the atmosphere over 189 of the world’s megacities, providing a new global standard for assessing levels of air pollution in various parts of the Earth’s atmosphere.  Ensuring that such uses of space technology, for environmental analysis and other human and environmental security applications, is available now and for generations to come is one of the policy discussions encouraged by the Secure World Foundation (SWF), dedicated to promoting cooperative solutions for the secure and sustainable use of outer space for the benefit of humanity and the environment.

The Secure World Foundation works with governments, industry, international organizations and civil society to develop and promote ideas and actions for international collaboration regarding the safe, secure and sustainable use of outer space. 

For the past six years, SWF has taken a leadership position with respect to its own operations by neutralizing its annual carbon emissions through its support of Carbonfund.org’s global carbon reduction projects. 

 “Our Foundation’s core values challenge us to be good stewards of all our resources to minimize our impact on the Earth.  By upholding our core values, we feel that we show our shared dedication to achieving our mission and our commitment to a sustainable environment on Earth as well as in space.”

Carbonfund.org encourages all of our business partners to shoot for the stars in pursuing meaningful and long-term sustainability initiatives as an integral part of your business plan.  Call us to discuss ways your business can achieve carbon neutral operations and support important clean air and renewable energy technology projects around the world. 

The Carbonfund.org Foundation is honored to receive the support of Forever Cheese for the 6th year in a row.  Since 2007, Forever Cheese has supported wind energy, reforestation and renewable energy projects through Carbonfund.org Foundation.  In fact, with 2012’s support, Forever Cheese has offset over 1,645 metric tons of CO2 and over 7,099 Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs) of green power.

To put this support into perspective, the six years that Forever Cheese has supported emission reduction projects is equivalent to removing almost 1,400 cars off the road for a year or to the electricity that almost 1,000 homes would use in a year.  It is also similar to recycling almost 2,500 tons of waste instead of sending it to a landfill. (Source: EPA  http://www.epa.gov/cleanenergy/energy-resources/calculator.html

In 2012 Forever Cheese took their support a step further. For Earth Day 2012 Forever Cheese stepped up and set the bar for Carbonfund.org partners by planting 7,500 trees globally.  Tree planting projects sequester CO2 from the atmosphere, prevent erosion, protect biodiversity, and provide renewable resources for local communities. Planting trees provides flood control by minimizing runoff and the loss of top soil, provides habitat and nutrition for wildlife and nurseries for local fish populations, and offers alternative economic livelihoods for local communities in the form of managing tree nurseries and planting, assisting with regulation of the water and nutrient cycle.

Co founder, Michele Buster, remarks “We are committed to wind energy as a solution for the future and reforestation as well.  We know that we can make a greater impact as a company than as single individuals.  We’d like to feel that we serve as a role model in our industry to incentivize others to support renewable energy resources.”

Carbonfund.org is grateful for the six years of partnership with Forever Cheese - a company showing an important example of how business can be part of critical climate change solutions.

About Forever Cheese:  Forever Cheese, founded in 1998, is committed to sourcing the finest cheeses and specialty foods from Italy, Spain, Portugal and Croatia. The company represents exclusively the following brands: Fulvi®, Dehesa Cordobesa®, El Trigal®, Drunken Goat®, Ca De Ambros®, Bonati, Italfine, Caro, Cacao Sampaka, Casa Pareja, CARM and Mitica®. Forever Cheese products can be found in the finest specialty food shops and restaurants across the country.  www.forevercheese.com -30-

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.

Many of our CarbonFree® Business Partners set the standards for excellence in their respective industries, in part by leading their peers through a strong commitment to environmental sustainability.  Celebrating its fifth year as a CarbonFree® Business, Elumin Healthcare Solutions of Sammamish, WA maintains its industry leadership through its focus on technology solutions design and implementation, customer service, and its dedication to operating in an environmentally sustainable manner. 

Elumin offers information technology advisory, project management and implementation consulting solutions to the healthcare provider community,  that includes implementation services for Allscripts, Cerner, Epic and Siemens applications coupled with an array of advisory services that includes interim leadership, project management, business and clinical alignment,  process  and workflow design and  enablement strategies.

As an important part of its overall sustainability initiatives, Elumin joined the CarbonFree® Business Partnership program in 2009, supporting Carbonfund.org’s renewable energy technology development projects.  Elumin also is committed to reducing its impact on the environment by reducing unnecessary business travel, conserving energy and water resources in their facilities, and providing incentives for employees to take steps to reduce their own carbon footprint.

“Partnering with Carbonfund.org is more than just our company making a statement about carbon emissions,” says Mark Williams, CEO of Elumin Healthcare Solutions. “This is a whole-hearted commitment to improving the world we live in and doing our part to set an example in the business environment for what can be done.”

Elumin’s long-term commitment to sustainable business operations underscores a dedication to improving our environment and helping to hasten the transition to a cleaner energy future. 

Local Ford Dealership to launch first ever green initiative to offset carbon footprints

Simi Valley Ford will be launching its first-ever green initiative called the Drive to Save the Environment Campaign.The dealership has partnered with the Carbonfund.org Foundation to help offset the carbon footprint for the next 2 years of every new Ford vehicle that is sold during this campaign.The two and a half month long event will kick off on February 1st and go through Earth Day, April 22nd 

For every vehicle sold during this campaign-- from compact cars like the Ford Fiesta to the larger, F-150 trucks, Simi Valley Ford will purchase 2 years of carbon offsets by making a donation to support Carbonfund.org’s carbon emissions reduction projects.  Whether it’s planting trees, pulling plastic out of the ocean, recycling or investing in renewable energies, the dealership has made a commitment to help reduce the carbon footprint in CA for all of the vehicles sold over the next 80 days. 

“We at Simi Valley Ford are concerned about the future of our planet, so by partnering with a green organization like Carbonfund.org, we are hoping to help raise awareness to this growing issue.  We are also excited to allow our customers the opportunity to drive ‘emissions free,’ simply just by buying a car,” says Mike Shell, Fleet Manager, Simi Valley Ford. 

After Hurricane Sandy, a recent survey shows that 70 percent of Americans believe that climate change is caused by our daily carbon footprint emissions.  Most people are unsure of how they can do their part to help reduce emissions, so Simi Valley Ford wants to help raise awareness on climate change, while promoting Ford’s green initiatives at the same time.  The dealership is working with several green organizations to help promote this campaign and raise awareness in the community. 

“Simi Valley Ford is taking a real leadership position by neutralizing the first two years of carbon emissions from every new Ford vehicle sold during their Drive to Save the Environment Campaign.  It’s this type of forward thinking and pro-activity in the fight against climate change that we encourage among our business partners and supporters,” explains Eric M. Carlson, President of Carbonfund.org.  “We’re very honored to participate as a partner with Simi Valley Ford for this inaugural campaign.” 

Simi Valley Ford has set a goal to sell 300 new vehicles between February 1st and April 22nd.They invite any and all local and national companies to join them in helping to reach their goal.  This is the first time the dealership has launched this campaign and hopes that it will grow exponentially year to year, not just in CA, but also to Ford dealerships nationwide.

About Ford Motor Company

Ford Motor Company, a global automotive industry leader based in Dearborn, Mich., manufactures or distributes automobiles across six continents. With about 172,000 employees and 65 plants worldwide, the company’s automotive brands include Ford and Lincoln. The company provides financial services through Ford Motor Credit Company. For more information regarding Ford and its products worldwide, please visit http://corporate.ford.com.