i-think Twenty-Two

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Carbon Dioxide and you

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Let’s talk more about Carbon Dioxide (CO2) as it is right up there in the leading ingredients for global warming (there are other greenhouse gases such as methane which are even worse). Last weekend I was reading an article in Time discussing how the Academy Awards were offsetting their carbon dioxide emissions by purchasing carbon credits. The author rightfully pointed out that purchasing carbon credits didn’t reduce their individual emissions one bit.

That’s right, purchasing a Carbon Credit will not suddenly make the carbon dioxide you emit disappear. Instead, it guarantees that an equivalent amount of carbon dioxide will not be emitted by providing green power to someone else. Therefore, the net effect worldwide is a reduction in carbon dioxide emissions.

Carbon Credits are in no way the final solution to the problem, but rather they act as a catalyst for the change that must occur. They create a market for green power without the complexities of only supplying it to the people willing to pay for it. As this market grows, the green energy companies can take advantage of economies of scale to reduce the overall cost of green power.

Carbon Credits are useful so long as there is energy that can be supplied by renewable sources that would have otherwise have been supplied by carbon dioxide emitting sources. Ideally as renewable power becomes more prevalent, old coal power stations will be closed down.

Anyone can buy a carbon credit. Sites like Climate Friendly (Australian Site) provide tools to help you work out how many carbon credits you need to offset your carbon output. Remember, your carbon output doesn’t change, but you will be sponsoring a reduction of other’s carbon output by the equivalent amount. Virgin Blue has recently announced a plan to allow passengers to offset their carbon dioxide emissions as part of their ticket. Or you can try to go directly to the source with companies like Jack Green which provide power supplied from renewable sources.

The Australian government has unfortunately not yet set targets for carbon dioxide emissions. I can only hope that when the results of the federal task force on carbon emissions are released next month a decision can be made. It is troubling that the government’s plans seems more based on working around the problem, than addressing its root causes with an investment of $170 million being spent on a “Climate Change Adaptation Centre”, tasked with the job of investigating “the effects on coastlines and the atmosphere”. At a guess, recommendations of snorkels for low-lying coastal areas will be the pinnacle of this centre’s achievements. ((PM refuses to set target for carbon emissions - ABC))