Carbon offsets benefit Rotary projects
A irlines such as Continental, Delta, and British Airways offer passengers the chance to buy carbon credits to offset the carbon dioxide generated by their travel. So do rental car companies and credit card companies – even eBay offers carbon credits for sale. The New York Times reported that in 2007, people and companies in the United States bought US$54 million in carbon offset credits.
Christine Sephton recalls reading news reports about consumers not knowing where all that green money ends up. “I got to thinking, Rotary could be doing this,” says Sephton, a member of the Rotary Club of East Hampton, N.Y., USA. “We could have our own offset trust, and the money could go to Rotary projects.”
The result was a joint project between the Rotary clubs of East Hampton and Sheffield, England, where Sephton’s husband, Peter, is a member (the couple divides their time between England and the United States). The CO2 Offset Trust – Rotarians for CO2 Reduction now includes nine clubs on four continents.
Here’s how it works: Visitors to the trust’s Web site, www.co2offsettrust.org , can calculate the amount of carbon dioxide generated from an airplane flight. They can then donate to the trust through the Web site using a credit card; the amount is calculated based on the amount of carbon dioxide produced. The trust is a registered charity in the United Kingdom.
The money raised helps fund Rotary projects that remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere or that teach people how to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. Money has gone toward a forest replanting project by the Rotary Club of Harrogate, England, and a solar oven project by the Rotary Club of Fresno, Calif., USA.
Lorna Milligan, a member of the Fresno club, is working with her club’s environmental committee to involve Rotarians in generating funds for CO2 offsets. “We find that most people believe it is important for us to do something, and this is a way to get started,” she says.
The Sephtons also see the project as a forum for Rotarians to share ideas. Information on the trust’s Web site emphasizes things Rotarians can do to conserve energy and educate themselves and the public about climate change.
“Everything is connected,” Sephton says. “It’s joining up the dots. Rotary does so much with disease and poverty, but it’s all connected.”
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Read more stories from The Rotarian.
Read about a new Rotary club with a focus on the environment.