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Summary:

During the hectic holiday season and its multitude of inconveniences, like delayed flights, icy roads and traffic jams, it’s easy for travelers to forget about the impact their travel has on the environment. But some early-adopter airlines have started to offer carbon offsets for travelers concerned […]

During the hectic holiday season and its multitude of inconveniences, like delayed flights, icy roads and traffic jams, it’s easy for travelers to forget about the impact their travel has on the environment. But some early-adopter airlines have started to offer carbon offsets for travelers concerned about their flight’s carbon emissions, and according to the San Francisco Chronicle, San Francisco’s airport will soon become one of the first airports in the U.S. to offer carbon offsets to travelers via airport kiosks.

Starting this spring, a company called 3Degrees will join forces with the city and SFO to offer fliers the ability to purchase carbon offsets at airports stations that resemble self check-in counters. 3Degrees, whose projects include coal mine methane gas capture, forestry, agricultural methane gas capture and renewable energy in developing countries, will run the service and provide the software and offset programs, while the city will provide the kiosks. As for SFO, the Chronicle’s report says the airport is investing $163,000 into the project.

But the project could prove controversial. The worth of carbon offset programs is a topic of heavy debate, as critics question whether such projects are viable, or would have happened with or without the funded program.

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By Katie Fehrenbacher
  1. How about a pet rock kiosk?

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  2. Quite possibly one of the biggest setbacks to carbon trading and carbon credits to date. As it is today, carbon credits invite vociferous debate and skeptics because of the lack of transparency, accountability, science and trust. Now to invite both disdain and skepticism, 3degreesinc.com and San Francisco embark on a carbon boondoggle to damage the entire movement.

    1) SF is in a horrendous budget deficit. To spend $163,000 for kiosks (approximately $2K I bet minimum), power and internet access for power hungry desktop PC/kiosks is wrong. It pits environmental movement against profound human needs such as the need to help the poor in SF or maybe hire more public safety or health care folks.

    2) While there is merit in CO2 credits, “verified credits” of methane expelling Brazilian cow manure that cannot be verified or tracked by the buyer of the credits, SF or even 3Degreesinc.com itself makes this entire exercise a joke.

    3) The cost of US carbon credits is +/- $3.30 as per the last RGGI auction. And even those are currently hard or impossible to verify. Consider that they do not even publish the source of the credits nor the buyer of the credits and those are US credits. Will these kiosks offset 50,000 tons of CO2/year?

    4) It’s a scam to offer “verified credits” and a manipulation of marketing jargon. Why don’t they publish who and where the credits come from?

    The Brazilian carbon trade is rife with double selling, even triple selling of the same credits over and over again. I know… I am from Brazil.

    5) If SF and 3degreesinc.com want to do this, then the entire transaction should be subject to the fullest implementation of SF sunshine ordinance.

    6) There is apparently a lack of business judgement from both SF and 3degreesinc. The public interest matters. How this business decision affects the overall perception of carbon markets matters. This was poor judgement.

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  3. Elaine Hummlefarb Friday, December 26, 2008

    I don’t quite agree with Brian’s snide comment and I agree with some of Ernie’s commentaries.

    Carbon credits and markets can work. The fundamental mechanics though lack any sense of transparency. Look at the Chicago Climate Exchange where the same single carbon unit can be sold as BOTH a REC and carbon credit.

    Companies like 3degreesinc.com do nothing but perpetuate a flawed system with marginal transparency and their sole interest is making money. These companies don’t care about saving the planet… they want to make money to the detriment of the very system they exploit.

    The UN created a system based on flawed compromises driven by lumber and forestry interests, coal-fired power plants need for opacity. How come avoided deforestation is not counted as a carbon sink or credit? Perhaps because indigenous peoples who have no voice live in them? No, the real reason is forest lobbies have no interest in the preservation of forests. The lumber companies want to cut trees, plant commercial species like teak and palm oil which in turn destroy biodiversity.

    Ask where carbon credits come from and you get blank stares from Terrapass.com and 3degreesinc.com. They’ll show a list of projects that have been audited by CPAs or some other auditors (who take a 1-week course) once a year!!! They might as well have a homeless person from SF do the “certification”.

    If the UN, the US and the bazillions of “carbon companies” like 3degrees and terrapass want to bring credibility to carbon markets, they need full transparency.

    Kyoto and Poland were exercises in compromise and merely forums for industrial and forest/pulp/paper interests and lobbies. If we want to do the right thing, we can do it. If you just want to make money, send your resume to 3degreesinc.com or terrapass.com or join the pulp and paper or cattle ranching lobbies.

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  4. It would be ok if they did not gouge or profiteer from the City of SF.

    The cost of a verified US carbon credit is $3.38 per ton. Refer to: http://www.rggi.org/. This is all reckoned with metric tons = 2,200 pounds.

    $3.38 / 2,200 pounds = 0.001536 cents per pound of carbon credits

    3degreesinc.com is selling credits for $4.14 per 728 pounds effectively 0.005686 cents per pound of carbon credits

    See their site: http://imgs.sfgate.com/c/pictures/2008/12/24/mn_ecofriendly_graphic.jpg

    This means a price of final price of $12.50 per ton of carbon credits.

    This means a profit margin of over 370%

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  5. Could we domething similar for airport parking? The problem in Auatralia is that the Airport Corporation owns the airport parking and would be unlikely to agree to offer incentives for travellers to leave their cars closer to home rather than converging on airport carparks.

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  6. Maybe the airport should speak to this company?

    http://www.businessgreen.com/business-green/news/2232427/liverpool-airport-co2-power

    Looks as though this British Airport is leading the way, effecting change and securing extra passenger numbers by being a green thinker………

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