Tuesday, June 19, 2007

My Carbon Footprint

This web log has been the venue for a good deal of noise - my own - on corporate sustainability and environmental liability. It is time for me to “come clean” with my own carbon footprint.

There are a couple of on-line resources available for individuals to calculate their personal carbon footprint. I used
Carbon Footprint Ltd., a family operation based in the U.K. You need to have your utility bill handy and an estimate of the number of miles you put on your car each year. It is a ten minute process once you sit down at the computer. According to this group, my personal share of carbon dioxide pollution is 7,035 kilograms per year.

Carbon Footprint also suggests that to stop global warming every person needs to reduce their personal emissions to 2,500 kg per year. Ouch! The group makes some suggestions for polluters like me.

The first suggestion was to buy electricity from a renewable energy supplier….as if anyone really has a choice of utility provider.

Next on the list is to reduce the number of airline flights. This is something I have already given consideration, yet company visits are one of the services my investor clients expect. I could close down my research business and go into something local - like begging in Times Square.

Third brilliant idea - “car share or use public transportation more.” Since I live in New York City, I do not own a car in the first place. As it is I either walk, take a bus or get on the subway. Perhaps I should buy a horse!

Last, the group suggests using less energy at home. I live in a New York City apartment. There is no energy consuming Jacuzzi to eliminate. The oil-fired boiler is under the control of a sharp-eyed “super.” I already recycle every last scrap allowable. I use only a fan and forego the air conditioner except in the worst of nighttime heat waves.

I decided to get a second opinion at Al Gore’s site for
“an inconvenient truth.” This questionnaire is a bit shorter in length, but is specific to the state where you live. It calculated that my personal global warming impact is “much smaller than average” at 1.85 tons of carbon dioxide. The national average is apparently 7.5 tons per year.

Of course, the Al Gore folks also have suggestions on how to reduce your personal carbon footprint. Once you complete the calculation, visitors can go on to a renewable energy site called
Native Energy, which is majority owned by Great Plains tribes. Native Energy is developing renewable energy projects in communities and farms. Individuals are given an opportunity to purchase “carbon offsets” much like an industrial company. The proceeds are used for wind or methane energy projects.

Now this may seem like a gimmick, yet it is the only way someone like me can make an incremental impact on global warming. I already have eliminated most of the high carbon emission items from my routine. Behavior change alone is not enough for an individual to impact global warming. A greater share of our energy use must come from renewable sources. To accomplish this I have two choices: picket ConEdison offices demanding more “green” content in the electricity or purchase carbon offsets.

If you do not like the NativeEnergy option, calculate your carbon footprint at The Clean Air Conservancy, a non-profit organization dedicated to improving the environment. A the conclusion of their carbon emission calculator, you can buy emission reduction credits. Proceeds go to support the conservancy’s work. They will send you a bumper sticker for your car to show its emission have been “offset” or a luggage tag if you are a frequent flier.


Calculate your carbon footprint and then look at your options for reducing it. The exercise is not unlike that which a business would undertake. Unfortunatley, their options would not necessarily be more numerous.


Neither the author of the Small Cap Copy web log, Crystal Equity Research nor its affiliates have a beneficial interest in the companies mentioned herein.

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