WWF encourages people to offset their emissions

olympics.jpgThe World Wild Fund for Nature is encouraging the 10,000 athletes that will compete at the 2008 Olympic Games of Beijing to offset their carbon dioxide emissions.

Each of all these athletes is due to emit an average of four tonnes of CO2 by flying to the host city. To what can be added the hundred thousands people that will come to support their countries.

All this will inject thousands of tonnes of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. The WWF is teaming with other organizations to enable people to offset their emissions.

Offsetting emissions is a quite simple idea, you give money to a project that will enable to cut carbon dioxide emissions. Thus, the amount emitted by your flight is “erased”. This is also called as being carbon neutral (see Wikipedia article via link below).

According to the WWF press release :

WWF is working with several offset organizations that will allow athletes, supporters, the media, and anyone else planning to travel to the Olympic Games to easily calculate their relevant CO2 emissions through a carbon calculator, and give ideas of where to donate to a number of recommended offset projects.

With a few clicks of the computer mouse, athletes can offset their emissions by supporting wind turbine projects in New Zealand, Alaska, Madagascar and Turkey; solar projects in the US, Eritrea and Costa Rica; or a biomass project in India. Many of the projects are Gold Standard-approved.

“It’s as simple as clicking a button on the web to add the environmental costs of your flight,” said Dermot O’Gorman, head of the WWF China.

“An average investment of around US$100 means a double win, as an immediate boost to some worthwhile projects and as a push to the clean energy market.”

wwf_logo.jpgTo me this is a good idea, now it has to be followed by the maximum amounts of people that will fly to Beijing for the Olympics. I am sure that other initiatives will be launched by other NGOs with time.

However, I am quite amazed to note that no project involve the home country of the event. China indeed needs to decrease its carbon dioxide emissions and to switch to energy conservation and to cleaner energy sources.

China has recently become the first emitter of carbon dioxide in the world, the USA now coming second. Moreover, the People’s Republic is known for its very bad air quality, as this kills nearly 700,000 people per year.

This can be explained partly by the fact that Chinese main electricity source is coal, the ” dirtiest ” source of energy. This accounts for nearly two thirds of its electricity generation.

So, if you plan to go to Beijing for the Olympic Games, please think about climate change and making a gesture for Earth.

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4 thoughts on “WWF encourages people to offset their emissions”

  1. We have to be careful about blaming the Chinese for their emissions. China is the most populous country in the world, this is sort of “normal” that they would be the first polluter in the world. If we have a look at pro capita emissions, I think they fare a lot better than their Western counterparts.

    I am very upset at the United States who take the fact that China is the biggest polluter as an excuse to not take action themselves. Now they’re saying, if they don’t lower their emissions, we won’t lower ours, which is very pathetic and shows that this is just a strategy for them to keep polluting as much as they can.

    Once again, China has the right to develop and grow, and we as developed countries should set an example for them to follow as far as CO2 emissions is concerned.
    Right now, we are more to blame than the Chinese.

    As far as carbon dioxide offsetting is concerned, I always thought this was a bad concept as far as it doesn’t solve anything. It’s just a way of trying to keep polluting but give us a better conscience. We should reduce emissions, not try to patch things up.
    A humorous point of view on the concept of offsetting is found here.

  2. Thanks for your interest in this blog and your comment.

    I am totally agreeing with you as indeed, China is the most populated country in the world, and it is ” normal ” for them to be the biggest greenhouse gases emitter.

    The per capita emissions are ridiculously low, but as there are more than 1.3 billion people, the total is enormous.

    Of course, I don’t deny China ( or any other country ) the right to develop and grow, I am just pointing to the fact that this development could be done in a cleaner way. For example, clean coal technologies and energy conservation could be used in China. But there is a question of costs…

    But as you point, developed countries don’t really show the example, and the USA (at least its federal government, see as a counter-example California) are playing a game that might end up really bad for all.

    The best that could be done is developed countries helping developing ones by transfer of clean technologies. Now, the feasibility of such a thing as to be assessed.

    Offsetting emissions is better than doing nothing, but it is quite true indeed that it gives people a good conscience as they are polluting.

    I will soon write an article on the development of the air transportation, with its huge growth.

    Edit of July 25th : an interesting article was released on the Beijing Olympic Games by Le Figaro. They are talking about the air pollution and the problem it might be for the Games next year. Their description of the situation is very worrying.

    À un an des JO, Pékin bute sur la pollution

  3. CO2 offsetting is wrong, we shouldn’t go down this path.
    I’m actually surprised some NGOs like the WWF would support it.
    It’s plainly bad for many reasons, and the fact that it sort of gives us a good conscience is not the worst reason.
    Say, what happens when a government that has been pushing for carbon dioxide offsetting decides five years later to get rid of those square kilometers of forest they planted as part of the offsetting to build a new airport, or a shopping mall or anything else?
    That’s right, the offsetting can be taken away very easily and the only thing you’re left with is the pollution.
    And there are many other reasons, as obvious as this one, why carbon dioxide offsetting is wrong and shouldn’t be encouraged.

    Once again, concerning China, who are we to blame them? Developing countries do close to nothing, how do we expect China to set an example?
    So yes, we can keep talking about it, publishing alarming articles about how India or China pollute a lot and that will divert the attention from our own real issues. The day Le Figaro publishes an article about how Bolloré, Dassault or the Carlyle group contribute to polluting the planet, maybe they will be helping the environmental cause.
    Right now they only contribute to making people think that others are to blame, not France or developed countries. Or is it Le Figaror’s real intention anyway?

  4. Well, on ofsetting, I stated my opinion. Yes it gives people good conscience as they pollute, which is not the best thing to do. People indeed should do something to decrease their CO2 emissions themselves and not pay some people to do their job of decreasing them.

    On Le Figaro, I just wanted to put this article as it is exactly on the same subject I was tackling yesterday. Their idea is not to blame others and not blaming French people or else. They just want to inform the people about issues that arise with time.

    It happens that this newspapers write articles on French pollutions and greenhouse gases emissions. Again, their job is not to blame others, strictly to inform. At least, this is my sincere opinion.

    For further discussions on this subject ( which could become political ), we can continue if needed the discussions by mail. (contact form on the contact page )

    Enjoy your day and thanks for sharing your opinion ! 😀

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