California will not officially trot out its carbon-trading marketplace until 2011, a provision of the landmark 2007 Global Warming Solutions Act signed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. But organizations that emit less Carbon Dioxide (CO2) than is considered to be the norm are already lining up to be sellers of carbon credits and major polluting industries in the Golden State are preparing to be buyers. The market will drive lower greenhouse gas emissions, the theory goes, because reducing CO2 will generate revenue for green companies and cause polluters to clean up their acts.
Things You’ll Need:
- Online carbon calculator (see Resources)
Develop a carbon footprint. This is the easiest step because every company makes one. Every time gasoline is burned, air conditioners kick on or jetliners are used, your business is contributing toward the emission of greenhouse gases. The amount emitted over a specified time period is your carbon footprint.
Measure your footprint. CoolCalifornia.org has developed a “Carbon Calculator” (see Resources). An organization’s energy usage and other factors are used to calculate the number of tons of CO2 it emits.
Offset the usage. One carbon credit equals 1 ton of CO2. Credits can be earned by an organization taking actions it would not normally do without the market incentive, such as drastically reducing building energy usage. State law dictates forestry, manure management and landfill gas capturing are projects that produce carbon credits.
Sell the difference. Large, polluting industries want to continue business as usual the best they can while hopefully moving toward reducing their carbon footprints. One way to accomplish this is to purchase a cleaner organization’s carbon credits. Small businesses can band together to sell bundles of carbon credits to the big users.
Determine your individual carbon footprint. CoolCalifornia.org and the University of California’s Renewable and Appropriate Energy Laboratory have online calculators that use one’s location, annual income and number of people under the roof to figure out how many tons of CO2 the individual emits.
Line up “buyers.” After using a similar carbon calculator at CarbonFootprint.com, the amount of CO2 a person emits can be offset by donating to an array of Earth-friendly projects, including reforestation in Kenya, tree planting in the United Kingdom and emission reductions in Central America.
Zero out. The goal is to make such great green choices at home and at work that you will get as close as possible to balancing out at zero. It’s the planet that comes out the biggest winner.
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Tips & Warnings
Don’t forget the trees. Beginning in 2008, California allowed forests to be considered carbon offsets. Timber companies have been able to “sell” the credits from their still-standing trees. Pacific Gas & Electric Co. has been among the buyers.