press releases | carbonfund.org
Friday, 31 May 2013 17:25

Money Talks Even with Global Warming

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You would think that out of all the industries in the world, the one that would be most concerned with climate change would be the insurance industry.  Take a look at the costs for Superstorm Sandy alone.  The extreme hurricane caused damage estimated at nearly $75 billion.  According to a press release last month by the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America, 2012 cost insurers $35 billion in privately insured property losses, which is $11 billion more than the average over the last decade.

Insurers, and the reinsurance companies that shoulder much of the ultimate risk in the industry, heavily rely on scientific thought and not which way the political wind is blowing on global warming.  They are comfortable with the scientific consensus that the rampant burning of fossil fuels is the main cause of climate change.  Despite their confidence, the question remains, what is the insurance industry doing about global warming considering the problem directly impacts their own interests?

Surprisingly, the answer is not much.  Insurers mainly focus on zoning regulations and disaster alleviation since the industry is disinclined to enter energy policy’s controversial fray.  Furthermore, insurers are more insulated from climate change’s devastation than at first meets the eye.  The federal government covers flood insurance, which is an enormous risk during extreme weather.  Additionally, insurers adjust to higher risks by raising premiums or dropping coverage.  So successfully that despite Superstorm Sandy and the protracted drought that ravaged the Midwest Corn Belt, property and casualty insurance in the United States was more profitable in 2012 than in 2011.

However, there are signs that the insurance industry is looking increasingly favorably on a carbon tax.  The true costs are placed on the polluters with a carbon tax rather than being passed on to the rest of us.  Also, they’re encouraged to pollute less.  Most insurers would prefer a carbon tax over a host of additional regulations from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Although the industry is warming to the idea of a carbon tax, they’re still hesitant to throw all of their weight behind it.  Again, money talks; insurers haven’t yet experienced heavy losses from climate change.  The exception is 2004 and 2005 when a series of hurricanes including Katrina, the costliest natural disaster in the history of the United States, caused damage worth more than $200 billion.

So the bottom line is that if these storms continue to hit people and businesses in the wallet, then eventually even the staunchest global warming disbelievers will admit the obvious.  However, we need to do what we can in the meantime to avert global disaster.  We don’t want to pass the point of no return.

Forward-thinking and environmentally committed organizations recognize that the current emphasis on environmental responsibility is not a passing fad.  Companies that rise above their competitors and lead with strong sustainability initiatives that make good business sense are the companies that will continue to prosper and grow.   CarbonFree® Shipping Partner Envelopes.com is a great example, with a five-year long commitment to neutralizing all product shipping emissions through supporting Carbonfund.org’s global reforestation projects. 

The CarbonFree® Shipping program is part of Envelopes.com’s “Going Green” program that includes facilities powered by 100% wind-powered electricity, a large selection of recycled paper envelopes, ones with corn-based clear address windows made from compostable materials by EarthFirst® Films, envelopes printed with soy inks, and envelopes and paper products made from 100% cotton fibers versus traditional paper.       

“Partnering with Carbonfund.org is a great way to help reduce our carbon footprint. Our partnership has enabled us to send CarbonFree® Shipments by offsetting the CO2 created when shipping our products to your door by investing in reforestation projects,” explains Seth Newman, President of Envelopes.com.  “Reforestation projects play a vital role in absorbing emissions and providing time to transition to a new energy future.” 

Over the past five years, Envelopes.com has neutralized over 1.6 million pounds of carbon dioxide emissions from product shipments, equivalent to the amount of carbon dioxide sequestered by almost 19,000 trees over a ten-year period. 

Every business and consumer has choices when it comes to the paper products they use.  Companies like Envelopes.com are helping to ensure that these choices include options that are environmentally responsible and exhibit ongoing commitments to sustainable operations.  Envelopes.com’s long-term dedication to Going Green initiatives such as CarbonFree® Shipping keep them at the forefront of their industry and the green choice for their customers. 

The world of social media has opened new channels for all businesses and organizations to reach their customers and supporters, but for many, it’s a strange new world requiring new skills and expertise.

Enter CarbonFree® Business Partner Salsa Labs.  Salsa helps nonprofits and political campaigns “ignite action and fuel change” around the world by growing and engaging their base of support online.  With Salsa’s technology tools and training, groups of all sizes can easily organize their supporters and chapters then improve efforts to fundraise, advocate, communicate through email and social media, host events and measure their results.  And despite the fossil fuel references in Salsa’s tagline, Salsa Labs has been a CarbonFree® Business for the past three years, partnering with Carbonfund.org to neutralize its own annual operating emissions.  By supporting Carbonfund.org’s carbon reduction projects, Salsa Labs has mitigated almost 500,000 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions, equivalent to the emissions created by using almost 25,000 gallons of gasoline.    

“Carbonfund.org shares our core values of making the world a better place,” says Christine Schaefer, Vice President, Community & Marketing.  “Their commitment to the environment and fighting climate change is inspiring and we look forward to this partnership.”

Salsa is proud to help their nonprofit clients fight for a healthier environment coast to coast and around the world, and Carbonfund.org is equally proud to help Salsa Labs meet its own sustainability initiatives through the CarbonFree® Partnership program.

The summer travel season is around the corner, and exotic locations lure the most adventurous travelers to remote and environmentally sensitive areas to experience their wonders.  When planning these trips, environmentally responsible travelers will seek out sustainable tours that meet established ecotourism guidelines.     

The International Ecotourism Society (TIES) defines ecotourism as "responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environment and improves the well-being of local people." CarbonFree® Business Partner Detour, The Adventure Travel Marketplace adheres to this definition and its guiding principles when selecting the local tour operators and outfitters for its online destination tours and travel adventures.  Detour actively promotes sustainable tourism by offering trips operated by local ecotourism companies and promoting green certified hotels in the trip destinations they support. 

As an important part of its sustainability mission, Detour minimizes it own operational carbon emissions then mitigates what it cannot eliminate in partnership with Carbonfund.org.  As a virtual company, Detour follows Carbonfund.org’s motto to “reduce what you can, offset what you can’t™” by maintaining only a small wind-powered office with some employees working from home.  Detour handles all tour information and customer communications online, replacing paper and printing with electronic documents.  And for the past six years, Detour has neutralized all remaining operational emissions through the CarbonFree® Business Partnership program.  To date, Detour has neutralized over 500,000 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions, equivalent to the amount of carbon dioxide sequestered by 6000 trees over a ten-year period.       

“As a company based on promoting small-scale tourism directly through socially and environmentally responsible local tour operators and outfitters, Detour is committed to protecting the environment and minimizing global climate change,” said Greg Findley, Detour’s CEO.

Working only with sustainable local travel companies ensures that the tours support the local economies.  Detour selects tour operations that employ local people and provide economic incentives for local people to protect their natural and cultural resources.  Traveling with local companies also gives travelers a window into the lives of the communities they visit.  This inside knowledge can make the difference between being a tourist and thoroughly experiencing and learning about a destination.

Taking a trip, even the most sustainably-planned tour, has some negative environmental impacts, including the carbon emissions of airplane travel and on-site ground transportation.  Detour advises its customers to become environmentally-responsible travelers by choosing a sustainable trip, taking fewer and longer trips, and trying to get direct air flights when possible. Finally, Detour encourages tour customers to purchase carbon credits to offset the carbon emissions from their flights through Carbonfund.org.  Join the ranks of eco-travelers by selecting leading sustainable tour operators like Detour and taking the extra steps to neutralize your vacation travel emissions.  

 

There’s only one chance to make a first impression, and product labeling is an important part of a product’s first impression.  CarbonFree® Partner Label Impressions helps its customers make clear, strong impressions through a range of product labeling options while maintaining its own best first impression as an environmental leader in its industry. 

Label Impressions is dedicated to keeping our environment healthy “one label at a time” by offering customers the most current information on eco-friendly products and materials.   Their company vision is to set the standard for efficiency by being clean, lean and green.  An important component of that vision is maintaining their CarbonFree® Partner status for the past five years. 

"We’re setting a precedent in the label industry,” states Jeff Morrow, VP of Sales & Sustainability for Label Impressions.  “Label Impressions has been focusing on environmental printing issues for years now and this is the culmination of those efforts.”

In the past five years, Label Impressions has neutralized almost 800,000 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions by supporting Carbonfund.org’s energy efficiency and renewable energy technology projects.  That’s equivalent to the carbon emissions produced by burning 40,000 gallons of gasoline. 

Label Impressions maintains CarbonFree® operations and is a Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified label printer, offering a variety of environmentally sensitive label choices including soy and water-based inks, recycled and biodegradable labels, biodegradable adhesives, and their own tree-free and water-free waterproof labels made from natural stone.  The FiberStone® labels combine the conformability, durability and toughness of a film label, the aesthetic qualities of a paper label, and the eco-friendliness of a 'green label' made from stone. 

First impressions and first-in-industry environmental accomplishments are important to Label Impressions, and Carbonfund.org is honored to help Label Impressions celebrate these achievements and their fifth anniversary CarbonFree®. 

Many of our business partners focus on following sustainable business practices, specializing in organic products, minimizing waste in their packaging and supporting Fair Trade practices. These programs are important to their business ethics and compatible with the products they’re delivering.

Exemplifying this approach is the husband-and-wife team that created Arbor Teas, a CarbonFree® Business Partner for six consecutive years.

Arbor Teas offers USDA-certified organic loose leaf teas from around the globe through its on-line store, with one of the web’s largest selections of organic tea, three-quarters of which is Fair Trade Certified.  Arbor Teas maintains a daily mission to find the world's most fantastic organic teas and deliver them to customers as sustainably as possibly.  This includes maintaining their CarbonFree® Business Partnership, neutralizing all operational and shipping emissions by supporting Carbonfund.org’s clean air and carbon reduction projects around the world.   

Because Arbor Teas deals in products that come from all corners of the globe, it was imperative to offset the carbon footprint of all shipments that arrive at or depart from their facility as well as the carbon emissions from their internal operations.

“It makes no sense at all to sell an organic product if the method of delivering it to our customers is environmentally harmful,” emphasizes Jeremy Lopatin, co-founder of Arbor Teas with wife Aubrey.  “Although we do everything we can to reduce our carbon footprint, we’re happy to partner with Carbonfund.org to offset what we can’t avoid… yet!”

Arbor Teas became the first tea company to deliver its full line of organic loose teas in 100% backyard compostable packaging, continuing to lead the tea industry through its staunch commitment to sustainable business practices.  Tea drinkers are now able to compost their tea leaves and tea packaging together in their home composting system.  Organic teas delivered CarbonFree® with compostable packaging – that’s commitment to environmental sustainability in action and leadership by example. 

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.

The printing industry has made a lot of progress in helping its member organizations analyze and reduce carbon emissions from various aspects of the commercial printing process.  These efforts to pursue industry sustainability have resonated with CarbonFree® Business Partner Digital Hub in very tangible ways. 

Now in its fifth year as a CarbonFree® Partner, neutralizing its annual shipping emissions by supporting Carbonfund.org’s renewable energy projects, Mikal Martzel and Digital Hub has developed a broad range of environmentally responsible initiatives.  

"We chose to partner with Carbonfund.org because we are on a mission to achieve as close to a zero carbon footprint as possible," explains Mikal Martzel, VP of Marketing, Sales and Environmental Policy at Digital Hub.  

Over the past five years, Digital Hub has mitigated almost 400,000 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions through the CarbonFree® Business Partner program, equivalent to taking 37 cars off the road for a year.

Digital Hub produces all printed materials in-house, giving their staff complete control over the paper, inks and chemicals used to produce printed materials. This eliminates the chance of non-environmentally safe materials being used by an outsourced print vendor.  Digital Hub also uses a waterless printing process when possible and reduces the chemicals used in traditional water-based offset printing methods. 

In 2009, Digital Hub switched to 100% wind power for its electricity usage, further reducing its operational emissions. And their internal policies of “one stop” lunch service, in which all employees order lunch for delivery by the same local restaurant, paper and products recycling and food composting programs in their office adds to their sustainability initiatives. 

Carbonfund.org is honored to partner with an industry leader like Digital Hub and commends their broad commitment to maintaining an environmentally sustainable business.

 

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