Pay to ‘voluntary carbon market’, ease your green conscience!

September 7th, 2008 - 2:26 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Sep 7 (IANS) Flying from Delhi to Mumbai and worried that you are adding to climate change? Just pay Rs.90 to the ‘voluntary carbon market’ that will use the money in green schemes.The voluntary carbon market is a concept that is catching on in developed countries and now Sushil Kumar, a teacher at the Indian Institute of Management-Lucknow, has calculated exactly how much ordinary Indians and even big corporates should contribute to it to ease their green conscience.

For instance, if one travels about 5,000 km a year in a petrol-driven car, the vehicle emits a little less than a tonne of the world’s main greenhouse gas (GHG), carbon dioxide. Again, one can compensate by paying Rs.800.

This money can go into schemes like planting trees, developing energy from renewable sources, improving energy efficiency and so on.

“When you pay for offsetting your emissions, you fund a project that reduces greenhouse gas emissions, most likely in India or China,” Kumar told IANS on phone from Lucknow.

“These projects generate ‘credits’ that are verified and certified by a standards organisation which guarantees that the (GHG) emission reductions have actually taken place.

“These projects include energy efficiency schemes, reforestation or afforestation programmes, industrial gas capturing plants and methane flaring plants among others.

“This creates an ‘emissions trading market’ where the commodity is ‘reduced GHG emissions’, and the quality is measured by verification standards used and the sustainable development that has occurred from the project.”

Links to voluntary carbon markets are available over the internet.

Since the world became more aware of climate change and its perils, people have been asking what they can do. They cannot stop flying or driving around, though they know these activities are adding to the dangerous concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. And hence the voluntary carbon market.

Kumar has been calculating the amount of greenhouse gas generated by running various appliances - what is called the ‘carbon footprint’ of that activity.

“Using a 2.5-tonne air-conditioner for an hour leads to 3 kg of carbon emissions,” he informed. “Similarly, the average sized hot water geyser emits 3.3 kg and the microwave oven 1.3 kg of carbon dioxide per hour.”

“You can now neutralise your individual carbon footprints generated through various activities,” Kumar added.

“Some online companies even offer gift packages for neutralising certain events like birthday or wedding parties. These packages also make a great gift for friends and family.”

Moving from the individual to the corporate level, Kumar said some Indian companies had started to measure their carbon footprints and do something about it, but most had a long way to go.

“Telecom company Bharti Airtel saves 96 trees a year by e-billing, uses video-conferencing, thereby avoiding travel, and has created energy efficient ‘green shelters’ at around 7,000 sites,” he said.

“Some more Indian corporate leaders have begun to take matters seriously. Among these are ONGC, ITC, Nestle, Essar Oil, Tata Steel, Wipro, JSW Steel, IDBI, ICICI, and Rabo Bank. They have announced plans for emissions trading. ”

However, Kumar said, “Most firms need to overcome their tendency of short-term thinking and focus more on deeprooted institutional changes.”

Kumar referred to a recent KPMG-CII survey, in which Indian firms were asked if they had any goals to reduce their carbon footprints by 2010. Forty-one percent replied in the affirmative, but 38 percent said they did not have any such plan.

“In developed countries, most companies measure and report their carbon footprints and also announce the actions they plan to take to reduce them,” he pointed out.

“Indian firms will face increasing pressure to comply with international environmental standards from their global partners,” Kumar said.

(Joydeep Gupta can be contacted at

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