Climate Progress in the Toronto Star on Offsets

The “virtuous traveler” at the Toronto Star interviewed me for an article on offsetting air travel, “The winds of (climate) change.” The piece is pretty good. Here are some highlights:

Joseph Romm, a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress and author of Hell and High Water, is a critic of tree-planting as a carbon offset option.

“Trees take a long time to grow and they can be cut down,” he says. “I think planting and preserving trees is a good thing, but it won’t solve global warming.”

Offsets might “leave people with the impression that you can solve the climate problem by spending a few bucks,” he says. “The solution is going to take a lot of hard work for many decades.”

Still, he admits they are a step in the right direction.

“If you get well-credentialled offsets, it’s a good idea,” he says, suggesting that green-minded travellers seek out offset companies focused on clean energy projects.

The article focuses on the two offset companies that testified with me in July, Terrapass and Native Energy, both of whom seem well-credentialed. The article notes that a very high standard for offsets exists:

World Wildlife Fund International, among others, created Gold Standard label, which is awarded to offset projects that also cultivate sustainable development. The Gold Standard label is endorsed by more than 44 non-governmental organizations worldwide.

This third-party verification is critical, says Romm.

“It’s a key component to a good offset program.”

Whatever offset program you choose, use it together with sincere attempts to reduce your carbon footprint.

Sound advice!

5 Responses to Climate Progress in the Toronto Star on Offsets

  1. Jacob says:

    “Whatever offset program you choose, use it together with sincere attempts to reduce your carbon footprint.”

    Offsets is like indulgences sold by the Pope. Lets you keep sinning for a little money. If you really believe you are going to burn in hell you should stop sinning.
    People who really are worried about AGW should go beyond indulgences (sorry, offsets) – that is – they should buy offsets, but also make some real sacrifices – painful ones, like cut down their air-traveling, cut down their electricity consumption, and their consumerism, in general.

    Dr. Romm – would you care to tell us what you’ve been doing along these lines ? Would you like to mention the “sincere attempts to reduce your carbon footprint” that you have made, and their results ? Would you care to publish your carbon footprint, and the multidecadal trend in it (up or down) ?

  2. Joe says:

    Jacob — I will answer you in a post.

  3. Emma says:

    Is there any way you might be able to help spread the word about this event?

    Thank you,
    Emma Roche
    416-533-6724 ex 270

    Royal St. George’s College Parent’s Guild Speaker Series presents

    Geoff Green and Ray Zahab
    “Icebergs to Sand Dunes – Our Changing Planet”
    January 28th, 2008
    Doors open at 6:30pm ~ Lecture begins at 7:00pm
    Tickets are $25 ~ General Admission
    At the Bloor Cinema ~ 506 Bloor Street West


    “From Icebergs to Sand Dunes” explores the effects of Climate Change on two desert biomes. Together Canadian adventurers Geoff Green and Ray Zahab take the audience on a fascinating and inspiring journey from the Earth’s Polar Regions to the Sahara Desert. During the presentation, Geoff and Ray will weave together stories of adventure, profound observations of and lessons from Mother Nature, and their unique perspective into the human condition. 

    Proceeds “From Icebergs to Sand Dunes” will be given to The Students on Ice Polar Education Foundation and ONE X ONE.

    Geoff Green is a Canadian adventurer, environmentalist, and educator who founded the award winning educational organization, Students on Ice. Geoff Green has been leading expeditions and adventures from pole to pole for the past fifteen years and is a veteran of 73 Antarctic expeditions and 30 Arctic expeditions. In 2005, he received a Certificate of Special Congressional Recognition from the U.S. Congress for his work with youth and the environment. He was also voted one of Canada’s “Top 40 under 40 – an annual national prize event saluting Canada’s top young leaders. In 2004, Outpost Magazine chose Geoff as one of the “Top 5 Canadian Explorers” to watch. Most recently, Geoff was awarded the Citation of Merit for outstanding feats of exploration and service by the prestigious Explorers Club in New York City.

    Ray Zahab is the winner of some of the world’s most difficult and challenging ultra-distance foot races. Ray is motivated by challenge, distance and discovery. It was not until the late nineties that Ray competed in his first adventure race, started rock and ice climbing, and left a pack-a-day smoking habit behind him. That began something new for Ray and this dramatic awakening from a lifestyle of unhealthy choices uncovered a deep passion for progressive challenge. On November 1, 2006 Ray and two other runners set out on an epic expedition to cross the Sahara Desert by foot. One hundred and eleven days after leaving the coast of Senegal they made history by dipping their toes into the Red Sea and raising the bar of all that we consider possible. The epic expedition had the trio running an average of 70km’s a day, without a single day of rest. Having dream become reality, Ray has become a unique voice of inspiration and motivation. He has pushed the limits of endurance beyond what has ever been done before. The documentary film about the expedition, Running The Sahara, will be released in 2008 to raise awareness of the water crisis in Africa.

  4. don hennick says:

    Lets give it a name
    I say Global Carbon March
    Inter our exhaust

    I don’t see any mention on your web site of Pyrolysis or Agrichar . Do you have projects in the planning stage on the carbon sequestration front?

    The more you learn about this ancient technique of soil restoration the more you’ll see how elegant this solution can be for carbon sequestration, for us all.
    Imagine putting the carbon tax funds into the hands of millions of peasant farmers all around the world, building their soil and their net worth at the same time. Please search “AGRICHAR” “BIOCHAR” or

  5. Great post as usual, long time lurker here, first comment! Thanks for the great blog.