Sunday, October 2, 2011

Commuters can offset their carbon footprint –- Is there any possible way to reduce carbon emissions on a global scale?

Commuters can offset their carbon footprint and these statistics show that doing so can have a huge impact to putting a stop to climate change and global warming:

Transportation accounts for 22% of energy use worldwide and 27% of carbon emissions.

96% of the energy used for transportation in major energy-consuming countries comes from petroleum fuels, which are a main cause of global climate change.

Three fourths of transportation energy use originates from road vehicles, about two thirds is consumed by passenger mobility, and one-third is utilized by moving freight.

Light vehicles accounted for 63% of transportation energy consumption in 2005.

But aren’t big businesses, industries, and rich countries reliant on fossil fuels the bigger culprits?  What are governments doing so that countries and businesses reduce their carbon emissions? 

The Story of Cap and Trade

Cap and trade, also known as carbon trading or emissions trading, is one of the leading proposed solutions to the global climate crisis. 

Under cap and trade schemes, individual governments or intergovernmental bodies, like the United Nations, set a limit on greenhouse gas emissions allowed within a given time period — that’s the cap. 

If a company plans to pollute more than their allotted limit, they can buy permits from companies that haven’t used all of theirs — that’s the trade.

Check out this video by the host of the Internet film sensation “The Story of Stuff”, Annie Leonard, explaining cap and trade and revealing the "devils in the details" in current cap and trade proposals.  See how carbon offsets work in a global scale.

What we can do

As the video points out, our global economy runs on burning fossils fuels such that just about everything releases carbon.  

We might think that although ordinary commuters can offset their carbon footprint or even better, reduce carbon emissions, there really isn’t that much we can do if the factories that make our stuff, the ships and trucks that carry it around the world, our cars, buildings, and appliances keep coming from carbon-intensive sources.

This is true. But as end-consumers, our money and the way we consume stuff fuels this kind of destructive economy. 

The money we all spend on supporting polluters by buying their products or investing in these businesses can, for example, be diverted to supporting clean and renewable energy sources.  

Planting trees, buying organic produce, recycling, taking public transportation, biking or walking, and even lobbying for more efficient and cleaner public transportation are just a few examples of how commuters can offset their carbon footprint.

To know more about the story of how our obsession with stuff is trashing the planet, our communities, and our health, check out Annie Leonard's book.

Transitioning to a clean energy world will not be easy but our collective efforts will go a long way in taking us there.  We can all be more involved by learning how our lifestyles affect the environment, changing our consumerist mindsets, and taking small steps to make it happen.  With the impact that transportation has in global warming, it is well worth remembering that commuters can offset their carbon footprint.

References: /transportation-energy-use-infographic/ capandtrade

Photo thanks to photos/mikaelmiettinen/