Thomas Homer-Dixon Chooses His Carbon Offsets

When Thomas Homer-Dixon hit the road for his book tour of The Upside of Down, he wanted buy carbon offsets for the trip and studied his options carefully. According to Richard Blackwell in the Globe and Mail:

He selected Toronto green energy retailer Bullfrog Power Inc. to inject electricity from renewable sources into the energy grid to balance the power used in the tour. And he got offset firm Zerofootprint Inc. of Toronto to counteract greenhouse gas emissions from air and ground travel by putting money into the Kettles Hill wind farm in Alberta.

Prof. Homer-Dixon says it's important that people begin to think about offsetting their carbon emissions, even if the process is still far from perfect.

"For me, as much as anything else, this is symbolic," he said. "I desperately want to be able to do more, and I want to make sure it works and it's right, but I figured I had to do my best to do something." To deal with concerns that not enough offset money is in fact doing anything, Environment Canada is beginning to rate offset initiatives through its Ecologo program. The Globe continues:

To get EcoLogo certification, the money collected has to be carefully tracked, documented and audited. Credits must be purchased within 45 days from a list of qualified projects that genuinely reduce carbon emissions, and credit sellers must put some effort into educating the public.

Read the whole article at ::Globe and Mail

Canadian offset organizations

What it offsets: car travel.

Credit sources: the Chicago Climate Exchange (from a U.S. hog and dairy farm that captures methane to reduce emissions); tree-planting programs from Tree Canada Foundation.

Structure: Private, for-profit.

Expense ratio: About 30 per cent goes to expenses and profit.

Carbonzero.caWhat it offsets: car and airplane travel, home heating and power.

Credit source: Canadian Hydro Developers' Cowley wind project in Alberta; lighting retrofits for low-income families in Ontario.

Structure: Private, for-profit.

Expense ratio: About 25 per cent goes to expenses and profit. What it offsets: car travel, plane travel, home energy use, book publishing, corporate events.

Credit source: tree-planting projects in B.C.; Creststreet Kettles Hill wind project in Alberta.

Structure: Not-for-profit.

Expense ratio: undisclosed. What it offsets: airplane flights.

Credit source: Through Britain's Climate Care organization, which funds international projects ranging from biogas digesters in India and efficient lighting in South Africa to rain forest restoration in Uganda. Soon will add B.C.-based geothermal heat-pump projects.

Structure: Not-for-profit.

Expense ratio: About 20 per cent goes to administration.

Cooldrivepass.comWhat it offsets: car usage.

Credit source: same as for Offsetters. (It is run by the same group based at the University of British Columbia.)

Structure: For-profit.

Expense ratio: About 30 per cent goes to administration and profit.

Greenmyflight.comWhat it offsets: plane travel (and runs Uniglobe Travel's green flight program).

Credit source: Creststreet Kettles Hill wind project in Alberta.

Structure: Owned by Baseline Emissions Management Inc., a for-profit emissions reduction marketing firm.

Expense ratio: 10 per cent goes to administration.

You can also buy offset credits directly from a number of companies and organizations including Canadian Hydro Developers, Tree Canada Foundation, Uniglobe Travel and WestJet.

Related Content on