Carbon Offsetting: Terrapass

I’m not really one for resolutions, but the New Year does seem an apt time to clear away a few of those tasks I’ve been meaning to get to for a while. First up is carbon offsetting: the practice of investing in projects that attempt to reduce the planet’s production of environmentally harmful carbon products by an amount equivalent to that you generate.

It’s been difficult to find appraisals of the quality of the various services out there, so I’ve decided to split our investment a few ways to give us a chance to try out each of the services and with the hope that at least some of the money will be well invested.

Today I signed up for a Terrapass, a scheme designed for car owners. You enter the details of your car and your average mileage and it will tell you how much carbon you’re generating, recommending a membership level to offset that.

While we try to keep our car usage as low as possible, we still hit somewhere around the US average of 12,000 miles per year mainly as a result of semi-regular trips down to Nashville and over to Chicago. We’ll keep trying to find ways to reduce that, but while we do it’s good to know we’re helping someone, somewhere try and offset the 8,500 lbs of carbon dioxide we’re inflicting on the planet.

At present, you can only sign up for terrapass with a lump-sum up-front payment. We’re in a position where that’s not a problem, but in order to attract people from a wider range of economic situations it would be good if there were ways to pay monthly, or perhaps to buy credit for a certain number of miles. It’s also not clear whether it takes the production of the car—which could perhaps be spread over an average car lifespan—into account but it’s a simple programme and they appear to be investing in good projects.

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4 comments

  1. AVIS offer a simple system with each car rental (for those of us that try not to own cars). I think you can sign up on a weekly basis at the company they use http://www.futureforests.com/

  2. Hmmm, they don’t even have emissions available for the MINIs at all. They say they can estimate, but cars definitely vary in how much emissions they produce.

  3. Thanks for the link, Jim. I’ve bookmarked it for the next go around.

    Shame about the minis, Curtis. Is the data available anywhere else?

  4. [braces for flame about how Mini is not a BMW]

    ahem…

    For Mini data, try BMW.

    Cheers,

    Tom