When I wrote a post recently asking whether carbon offsets were irrelevant, I suggested that instead of focusing on reducing individual carbon footprints, there might be more leverage in focusing on the positive, systemic changes and social benefits that can be achieved from promoting clean technology.
From solar as a life saving alternative to kerosene lamps to cleaner cookstoves protecting women, forests and climate, we already know that more efficient technology can have a profound impact on people's lives above-and-beyond simple carbon emissions.
So it's hardly surprising, but still worth noting, that carbon offsets and carbon markets are playing an important role in the fighting pneumonia around the Globe. This news comes from UK-based offset provide Climate Care as activists observed World Pneumonia Day this past Saturday:
For years development groups have been trying to promote the use of efficient cookstoves, which bring a whole treasure-chest of benefits: by burning more efficiently they produce less smoke and use less firewood; saving money, time and in many cases deforestation. But one of their greatest benefits is, quite simply, saving lives. By cutting down indoor smoke pollution, these stoves help drastically cut instances of pneumonia, saving children’s lives: according to the Global Coalition Against Child Pneumonia (GAPP), the humble efficient cookstove is a major weapon in the fight against this horrible disease. In fact, of the four interventions studied by the GAPP the cookstove has the single highest impact in reducing a child’s risk of contracting the disease, by a whopping 50%.
So while some folks continue to have a moral objection to carbon offsets, I would urge people to think carefully about what they are and what they are trying to achieve. Whether avoiding emissions, or offsetting them, green lifestyle choices will never be enough to save us by themselves. But we can make strategic, systemic interventions that move us toward a cleaner energy future, and save lives in the process.
And quality carbon offsets can be a valuable part of that process.