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Campaigning is Dirty Work

And we don’t just mean the banter and attacks on integrity and voting records going on in the primary races for the party nominees. There’s also the physical campaign trail, littered with greenhouse gas emissions from traveling across the country and between cities in contested states.

So, meet Standard Carbon LLC, introducing a new effort to get presidential candidates to offset their campaign carbon footprint. The group has created a brand — simply that presidential hopefuls are certifiably Carbon Neutral — it wishes to use to put pressure on the candidates to not only clean their trail but to also prioritize global warming in their policy platforms and rhetoric.

To excerpt their press release:

“If you commit to stand up for what you believe in that means taking personal action first. Climate change depends upon leadership, because cleaning up the air is a non-partisan decision. Our program makes it easy for each campaign to be carbon neutral and allows candidates to lead by example.” Said Brendan Woodward, President of Standard Carbon LLC, a national provider of carbon offset credits and Chicago Climate Exchange member.

Carbon offsets are bought by Carbon Standard, and the initiative is unique to the market because its strictly for political races. Another thing is that only offset projects located in the U.S. can count.

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There are, of course, both good and bad attributes to Standard Carbon’s effort. What’s good is that a Carbon Neutral label could become a hot item, with no presidential candidate allowing his/her campaign to continue without one. As a result, global warming receives more attention from these leaders and the pundits.

What’s a bit more worrisome is that offsets are hazy in the first place. The desire to be called Carbon Neutral could easily over ride the actual impact of the offset projects on greenhouse gas emissions. It’s hard to keep offsets transparent, measurable and verifiable. Offsets, too, can be dirty work.

[JR: Another problem is that the offsets are purchased through the Chicago Climate Exchange (CCX), which does not have a transparent process for assuring high-quality offests.]

— Kari M.