Moraga, CA (PRWEB) March 3, 2009
As COO of fair trade certifier Transfair USA, Dave Rochlin saw first hand how selling coffee as a commodity sets a "low bar" for sustainability, hurts small farmers, and denies consumers the right to choose for themselves what their purchases support. In researching how to fight climate change, he and his ClimatePath cofounder Katy Foreman discovered that the voluntary carbon markets suffer from the same issues. The two decided to use their social venture experience, business savvy, and web skills to create a new consumer model for offsetting that brings choice, transparency, and trust to consumers, and empowers carbon projects to compete based on their unique missions rather than on commodity carbon markets.
Explains Dave, "ClimatePath.org is designed around a marketplace model. Rather than blending project credits, selling untraceable tons, and putting pricing decisions into the hands of resellers, we let the projects determine a fair price, and give them a chance to promote the benefits of their work. We know from our fair trade experience that consumers want to be empowered to make informed purchase decisions, and often care as much about the underlying impact of their purchases as they do about price. This applies just as much to carbon footprint offsetting as it does to other direct purchases and product claims."
The ClimatePath team listened to project developers' complaints that they have historically received as little as $.20 on the dollar for their credits, and that their mission based projects are sometimes used as "loss leaders" in "bundled offsets" that also include credits from industrial polluters, and dairy or landfill methane-capture projects. Many mission based organizations and consumers believe that these sectors should be regulated, rather than rewarded for cleaning up the messes they create. ClimatePath's research also uncovered that many individuals and smaller businesses have resisted offsetting because of what they perceive as nontransparent and suspect credit markets that lack real choice. To encourage transparency and choice, ClimatePath provides specific project details, allows users to select their own offsets, offers a forum for project feedback, and creates a Climate Action Page™ for each user, displaying the user's supported projects. Dave's is available at http://www.climatepath.org/dave
As Dave points out, "A credibility gap and market inefficiencies have held back the voluntary market, which is tragic. We are running out of time on global warming, and conservation and offset mechanisms are the two best tools in our toolbox today. Forest preservation, small scale solar and wind, retrofitting… there are a tremendous number of projects in the pipeline that, with financial support, have immediate impact on greenhouse gas emissions, often carrying with them additional social or environmental benefits. We are excited to give the projects a place to tell their story, and a chance to break out of the commodity mindset. And we are convinced that greater choice and transparency will help make offsetting something that every consumer and business will consider as a supplement to their conservation efforts."
ClimatePath is combining fair trade principles with elements of Amazon.com, Kiva.org, and the APX carbon registries to reinvent how offsets are marketed. Users of http://www.ClimatePath.org can calculate their carbon footprint, review methods for conserving, and browse for specific projects that match their values and interests. ClimatePath expects to have 25-30 projects available by mid-year. The firm operates as a social hybrid, and website users are offered the opportunity to donate to the nonprofit ClimatePath Ecologic Fund, which acquires and retires credits from projects users have chosen. Using an independent nonprofit for user donations, combined with adherence to documented third party standards and verification for credits makes ClimatePath a unique and trusted voluntary offset marketplace. Social media tools and a strong emphasis on conservation also make ClimatePath.org a leading portal for both consumers and businesses to become more active in the fight against climate change.
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