Initiatives of Salvation
Ways to redeem our evil carbon-emitting selves and lifestyles are suddenly in abundance. My first attempt at critically evaluating one of these "programs," wasn't all that insightful and was mostly snarky. That cynicism is a barrier that tomorrow's (and next week's) marketers and CSR leaders will have to face and embrace.
I'm a novice about climate change who is just expert enough to be informed of its myriad environmental effects; I get tons of publications and devour them all. Companies are suddenly trying to design programs and campaigns that make us believe they have a vested interest in solving the problem- and granted, some actually do.
A Treehugger article this morning apparently had caused a revolt among bakers. The question of whether or not to pre-heat the oven was the subject of an article implying that pre-heating may not be worth the additional half pound carbon emission. I declined to vote in the baking article's end poll and noticed, for a second time, a lovely graphic of a woodpecker that I'd seen there once before. This time, I pecked on through. Oh crap, I'm clicking a banner ad. In tiny 3.5 point type as the destination site loaded, I could see it was a Pacific Gas & Electric program called ClimateSmart(TM).
It's a program designed to collect a fee from home and business customers that allows us to pay to "neutralize" our greenhouse gas emissions. P,G&E does the math, we pay the bill. Anticipated cost for the average home user is estimated to be $5 a month or less.
Parts of the Web site were obviously written with a legal bent in mind- very dry and I wondered if that was really how the average Web lurker would receive it best. The program shows good thought and they even remembered to serve the KoolAid to their own folks. P,G&E have signed up themselves up as the program's first customer. To be fully neutral, it'll take them 3 years. Given the size of the utility, I guess I should be satisfied with that. Like I said, cynicism you just gotta' love.
What's a little funky though, is that this industry is budding so fast, the entities to benefit from programs like this aren't coming online fast enough. As a result, projects eligible for ClimateSmart funds must be new greenhouse gas reduction projects. They must be either forest sequestration projects or livestock manure management projects. Its about alignment with protocols from the CA Climate Action Registry- a very interesting site if you want to get geeky.
Some interesting related resources to explore:
Climate Change Portal for CA: http://www.climatechange.ca.gov/
Footprint Calculator: http://www.pge.com/about_us/environment/calculator/
A nice portal for researching going solar: http://www.pge.com/solar/
Program accolades: http://www.pge.com/about_us/environment/features/climatesmart_what_people_are_saying.html
What about our roads- read about 'em here: http://www.climateregistry.org/PROTOCOLS/Cement/
Climate Change 101 education: http://www.climateregistry.org/Default.aspx?TabID=3367#ClimateChange
One last thing. I hadn't heard about this program. Wouldn't you think it should have been in our bill? It may have been in fact. We pay our bills electronically so the irony is, I probably rushed the insert without looking right into recycling bin. Wait, wait! Don't recycle your chance at redemption!