Making a difference today for a better world tomorrow.

Glossary

Challenge Accepted!!

Challenge Accepted!!

Making a difference today for a better world tomorrow.

by Quin Pompi | November 5, 2019


When I posed a seemingly harmless question to a friend the other week, “Do you want to have kids?” their pessimistic response surprised me. They said they didn’t want to bring a life into a world that is destined for destruction (referencing the fires plaguing the West Coast and the superstorms that struck the East Coast earlier in 2019). Sensationalistic weather patterns aside, it’s a somewhat pragmatic outlook given the forecasted trajectory of Earth’s climate.[1] While I don’t disagree that the forecast looks rather grim, I do disagree with my friend’s assessment that a decline into a climactic apocalypse is inevitable. Call me an optimistic millennial, but instead of seeing climate change as an insurmountable eventuality that has been placed on my generation, I see it as a challenge.

A large part of solving this challenge will be the task of decarbonizing our energy systems. This change is already underway, and it’s accelerating. You may have seen recent headlines of large utilities offering their clients energy derived from 100% renewable sources,[2] or making commitments to decarbonize their energy mix by a target date.[3] Many see wind and solar as the most obvious solutions to accomplish this goal, mostly due to their scalability, but while they may be the most obvious solutions, those alone won’t be enough. We need to take a long look at all possible energy sources. Finding a solution will require strategies that involve deep levels of innovation and ingenuity.

 

One such strategy is to employ solutions derived from the natural world, otherwise known as nature-based solutions (NbS). NbS refers to the sustainable management and use of nature for tackling socio-environmental challenges. While wind and solar use renewable resources, there is a whole other set of renewable energy development methods that use biological systems to create energy. For example, anaerobic digestion (AD) harnesses the activities of small, naturally occurring microbes, which break down organic waste (e.g. food scraps, manure, wastewater) to produce biogas. The gas can combust to generate electricity and heat, or it can process into renewable natural gas (RNG) or transportation fuels.[4]

Obviously, RNG alone won’t solve the decarbonization crisis, but it serves as an example of an innovative technology that we’ve created using a non-conventional approach, and it can serve as a template for developing alternative renewable energy sources and innovations.

I’m not trying to offer a definitive solution for our path to decarbonization. Instead, I want to instill in you a lasting sentiment of hope. Climate change does not have to be an eventuality ending in climactic apocalypse, like my friend says it will. I am confident that we will find a solution, and quite frankly, I am excited; excited to see how we will arrive at that solution; excited for the innovations and technologies that will be developed; and finally, I am excited that if my friend chooses to do so, they can bring a child into this world with a guilt-free conscience.

About the Author

Quin Pompi, a Project Manager at ClimeCo, joined the company shortly after earning his Bachelor of Arts in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology from Princeton University.  As a Certified Financial Modeling and Valuation Analyst (FMVA) coupled with a biology background, Quin specializes in leading and supporting all facets of business development efforts relating to ClimeCo’s expanding biogas project portfolio.  In his free time, Quin enjoys hobbies such as skiing, fly-fishing, and cooking. Recently, he has partnered with a local chef to build a successful start-up business that provides mobile wood-fired pizza catering to public and private events by using fresh, local-sourced ingredients.

Carbon Consciousness & The Live Music Experience

Carbon Consciousness & The Live Music Experience

Making a difference today for a better world tomorrow.

by Danielle A. Pingitore | September 26, 2019


The beautiful force and power of vocals. The inspiration in the effortless contrivance of instruments. The warmth of harmony and expression. The transcendent, uplifting magic of performance, which embodies it all. Music, a layered masterpiece, a universal language that speaks, heals, dreams, and resonates in one way or the other.

Music has always played an indispensable role in my life. During every weekend road trip of my childhood, the concert in the car to the destination was half the fun. From Janis Joplin, Grateful Dead, and The Temptations to Neil Young, Eric Clapton, and Alanis Morrisette, each song or artist ties into the memories of my youth, evoking a distinct feeling of nostalgia.

As I grew into my early 20s, live music became a favorite hobby of mine. I traveled near and far for music even though it was at the ease of my fingertips. For me, music was and will always be so much more than pressing play. The all-encompassing brilliance of music is what makes it special – seeing, hearing, feeling. It’s surrounding yourself with people who are all there for the same reason you are – to celebrate the live music experience.

It wasn’t until my late 20s that I began picking up on what goes into creating these live music events for artists and fans of music around the world. At this point, I was attending 15-25 concerts a year. I started thinking about the amount of fuel burning into the atmosphere while approaching traffic to the venue, the number of tickets printed, scanned and thrown away, the energy and power needed to produce flawless sound and lighting for 10,000+ people to enjoy. I began to see excess and waste where I once saw only joy and camaraderie.

After joining ClimeCo in mid-2018, I became more conscious of the environment and how impactful carbon is. I felt like the universe was working in my favor because months later we were in contact with one of my all-time favorite bands, Pearl Jam, whom I had gone to see in Philadelphia two years prior on their 25th Anniversary of Ten Tour. Pearl Jam ended up working with us to mitigate the carbon footprint of their 2018 European and US Tour through an Alaska-based forest preservation project, Afognak Island. They care about preserving and protecting wildlife, forests, oceans, and our planet. They didn’t have to go the extra mile to do this, but they did. Isn’t that incredible? 

A few months later, a fan tweeted Stephan Jenkins of Third Eye Blind on Twitter nudging him to do the same by referencing Pearl Jam’s initiative. Days later, Stephan’s team got in touch with us to discuss mitigating the emissions for their upcoming 2019 Summer Gods Tour with Jimmy Eat World and Ra Ra Riot. He accepted the Twitter fan’s challenge and wanted to raise the bar by including the carbon footprint of the fan travel to each stop of their tour.

This past August, Bill Flederbach, ClimeCo’s President & CEO, and Dan Linsky, VP of Voluntary Markets, asked me to join them at Third Eye Blind’s final tour stop at the FivePoint Amphitheater in Irvine, California. Fast forward to that evening: Stephan Jenkins, lead singer, songwriter, and guitarist announced mitigating the carbon footprint for the entirety of fan travel for their 2019 Summer Gods Tour on top of mitigating the tour itself. About halfway through the setlist, Stephan honored ClimeCo by inviting Bill and Dan onstage and presenting them with a Silk Floss Tree, which would be planted at FivePoint Amphitheatre as a continued reminder of ClimeCo’s support. It was a magical, feel-good moment. I felt immensely gratified to be recognized for the work we had put into this amazing cause.

Music unites us all. Why not unite to make it cleaner for our planet? Why not nudge and call on other artists to do the same as Pearl Jam and Third Eye Blind? Let’s open their eyes, educate, and inform them that carbon mitigation is an option. Let’s tell them how much we care. And let’s convince them they should too.

Photo by Stephen Albanese

About the Author

Danielle A. Pingitore has 10+ years of experience in sales and marketing and is enjoying the challenges of the carbon market. Dani holds a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration with a concentration in Marketing and a Certificate of Recognition in Advertising through Kutztown University. Dani loves music and enjoys going to concerts, traveling, and spending time with loved ones.

The New Age (Old) Question:  What does it mean to be “Carbon Neutral”?

The New Age (Old) Question: What does it mean to be “Carbon Neutral”?

Making a difference today for a better world tomorrow.

If you are reading this, you may already have some curiosity about carbon neutrality.  Maybe some knowledge, experience.

However, you may also have in mind the common question that we at ClimeCo hear from our clients and prospective clients:  What does it mean when a company says they want to become (more) “carbon neutral”?

Well, fearless reader, we can offer you one of many internet-found, quick and succinct definitions with this one from the Cambridge Business English Dictionary:

Climate Neutral is an adjective under the subsets of environment and social responsibility and defined as:  If something such as an organization or activity is carbon neutral, it removes the same amount of carbon dioxide from the environment as it releases into the environment.  (© 2019 Cambridge University Press)

Still confused?  Feeling inquisitive?  Good!

I proffer that there is more to it.  There are many definitions, understandings and misunderstandings; however, there isn’t absolute guidance regarding how a company or individual can become carbon neutral.  The central tenet is a bit easier to carry and is becoming more standardized.  Being or becoming carbon neutral is not an all-or-nothing effort, nor should it be.  It also need not be a one-time-only effort, rather, there are steps and considerations to be made. 

Central to all of this is determining your carbon footprint (carbon emissions associated with your activities), as this is what must be offset.

Fortunately, amongst the many widely accepted discussions and guidance, we find the Greenhouse Gas Corporate Protocol (GHG Protocol) ( https://ghgprotocol.org/ ), whose crafters note is used by 9 out of 10 Fortune 500 companies.  From our experience, we have no reason to doubt that claim.  The GHG Protocol is far from new, so it’s no wonder it has global traction.  It is a wonderful answer to the question at hand, too.

Around the late 1990s and early 2000s, much time and effort were spent by a partnership between World Resources Institute (WRI) and the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD), along with non-governmental organizations (NGOs), industry, governments and many others focused on creating the GHG Protocol.

At 116 pages, the Corporate GHG Protocol is not short; however, it is an easy, educational, and thorough read.  Most important in any carbon-neutral plan is considering just what your direct and indirect emissions are and accounting for them.  For instance, do you generate emissions from your ongoing site operations, or do you purchase generated power from elsewhere (either with or without emissions)?  Do you transport products?  The list goes on; however, the GHG Protocol offers a solution by providing a 3-step list of GHG “Scoping” for consideration (known as “Scope 1”; “Scope 2”; and “Scope 3”).

Scope 1 emissions deal with direct emissions.  

In other words, traceable right down to your personal/corporate activities.  Burning wood in a fireplace.  Driving to work.  Producing a chemical product and/or using fossil-fueled equipment, such as boilers.  On-site power generation.  You get the idea.

Scope 2 emissions deal with indirect emissions fostered by electricity consumption.  

In general, such emissions are generated offsite, but precisely because you need electricity.  So, you then account for those greenhouse gas emissions in your tally.

Scope 3 emissions address the balance of indirect emissions.

This scope tends to be optional under the GHG Protocol.  Examples of such items include transport and purchased manufacturing materials that are used onsite.

Apply GHG Protocol

Applying these “Scopes” to assess emissions has become one of the more common bases for calculations in determining annual emissions and/or a baseline to be offset.  The limits of just how far to go thereafter result from a bespoke plan, as these are the emissions that would need to be offset to become carbon neutral (be it partially, or in full).  Please recognize one of the old truisms as a part of such planning; reduce emissions the best you can and then offset the rest.

Carbon neutral means 100% net emissions balanced for a defined period of time.  Those reductions; however, do not necessarily need to all be accomplished on site.  Some, if not all, of these emissions can be offset by purchasing carbon offsets and renewable energy credits (RECs).  Note that use of such credits represents an ongoing obligation.  Emission reduction projects, both on and offsite, are creating reductions necessary for such balancing.  Part of the strategy should be to assess where reductions might first be made internally (e.g., switching to LED light bulbs) and then combining with environmental credits to balance the remaining emissions associated with the facility and its power consumption.  

The Future of “Being” Carbon Neutral

2019 has seen the continued advent of companies, organizations, and even rock bands looking to become carbon neutral.  Many have published extensive press releases about how they will be carbon neutral by 2023, 2025, 2030, etc.  This is because shareholders, investors, lenders, senior managers and other stakeholders are focused on the need “to do something” about climate change.  Fans, consumers, environmentalists, etc. are pushing for it, so this effort has become a public social responsibility that companies need to promote to show that they are trying to do the right thing and to build brand loyalty. 

From assessments to analysis, planning to execution, project development to sales, and marketing and acquisitions, this is what keeps companies like ClimeCo nimble; constantly developing, assessing, and executing carbon neutral efforts.

What does “being carbon neutral” mean at a higher level?

It means that you are responding to climate change.  You are taking a stand in a socially, financially, and environmentally beneficial manner.  How often is there a triple win in something you do for yourself or your company?  Not very often!  So, what are you waiting for?

About the Author

Andy Kruger, Esq., is well-versed in both law and engineering.  He holds degrees in both fields and has more than 30 years of experience in environmental markets and policy.  He is passionate about Climate Change, Renewable Energy and helping individuals, organizations, and companies to be better stewards of our world. 

Making Connections that Create Environmental Balance

Making Connections that Create Environmental Balance

Making a difference today for a better world tomorrow.

Our planet is a world of give and take to find environmental balance.  If you cut down a tree, plant two new ones.  If your production process emits greenhouse gases, consider voluntarily reducing them or investing in carbon offset projects.  If you travel for business, consider purchasing carbon offsets that make your carbon footprint neutral.  At ClimeCo, we love helping companies, manufacturers, industry sectors and even rock bands come together to support each other to find that environmental balance.  Currently, we are working to connect an industry we have supported since day one and a state that started it all with Cap and Trade.

Supporting a Big Industry

Did you know that agriculture is California’s number one industry, which brings billions of dollars into the state?  From grapes grown in Napa Valley to almonds in Sacramento Valley, California farmers feed 13% of the US population.  California has almost 80,000 farms that produce more than 400 commodities.  They are the leading state in cash farm receipts and a quarter of what they produce is exported around the world.  (Statistics from www.cdfa.ca.gov.)

In order to maintain this level of agricultural production, fertilizer is necessary to replenish the nutrients that are lost with each harvest.  California farms use more than a million tons of fertilizer per year to feed their crops to support an abundant harvest.  Fertilizers used in agriculture include nitrogen, phosphorus and potash.  There are fifteen states in the U.S. that contain nitrogen fertilizer production facilities, yet there are none presently in California, so the state must import fertilizer in order to support their major agricultural sector. All nitrogen fertilizers start from the processing of natural gas and other carbon-based fuels.  The natural gas is transformed into ammonia and then to other
nitrogen-based fertilizer products.  That correlates to over two million metric tonnes per year (tpy) of CO2e emissions that are generated by the manufacturing and transportation of fertilizer to California, which the state has a responsibility to mitigate.  This can easily be accomplished by supporting fertilizer based N2O reduction projects located here in the U.S. 


Greening Up Fertilizer

Nitrous oxide, which is 298 times more potent than carbon dioxide from a global warming potential, is formed from the processing of Nitric Acid, which is a main feedstock for ammonium nitrate, a critical nitrogen-based fertilizer.  To address this, over 10 years ago, the Climate Action Reserve (CAR) adopted the Nitric Acid Protocol, the only fertilizer manufacturing GHG abatement protocol in use in the United States, with significant input from ClimeCo, who served on the Working Group.  We wanted to make a difference and a positive impact with the fertilizer sector by creating scalable greenhouse gas abatement projects.  There are many fertilizer producers who trusted ClimeCo when we had no real track record, and because of our passion and drive, we were able to partner with them to generate great success. These partnerships still exist and have only expanded over time. 


Connecting the Dots


Through the purchase of carbon offsets from fertilizer manufacturing, your company can help green the agricultural supply chain in California.  To date, ClimeCo has developed 100% of North American-based voluntary nitric acid carbon offset projects, representing approximately 15 million tonnes of CO2e abated from this sector, with additional projects currently being installed.

We encourage you to communicate this to your stakeholders or the agencies overseeing your CEQA case file.  ClimeCo is happy to help supply information to assist you with your efforts.  There are insufficient California based voluntary offsets to meet the current California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) demand and IT IS stalling economic growth in CA.  These projects should be considered equivalent to in-state reductions for all purposes, including those under CEQA.

About the Authors

William “Bill” Flederbach cofounded ClimeCo in 2009 and has grown the business rapidly over the last 10 years.  Before starting ClimeCo, Bill managed air quality at O’Brien and Gere (OBG), worked and managed the international carbon markets at MGM International and AgCert.  He is a graduate of Pennsylvania State University and Smeal College.

Nancy Fuchs Marshall has worked in the environmental engineering market for over 14 years and in the marketing field for 23 years.  Prior to joining ClimeCo, she fostered air, solid waste, wastewater and remediation projects for RMT (now TRC) and Sage Environmental (now ATC) and helped them increase their marketing and business development in the Southeast.  Nancy is a graduate of the University of Notre Dame of Maryland.

The “Individual” in the Context of Global Emissions

The “Individual” in the Context of Global Emissions

Making a difference today for a better world tomorrow.

A closer look at global GHG accounting from a Canadian perspective.

A BBC article I recently read ”took stock” of where we are in the progression of climate change [1]. One visual stood out to me which showed the top ten global emitters as a percentage of the country’s contribution to greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions (see below). This is not the first time I have seen a chart like this, nor did the results surprise me; China leading the way at 26.6%, followed by the US at 13.1%, and Canada somewhere near the bottom at 1.6% of total global emissions.

In Canada, there currently is considerable debate around climate policy; several provinces have launched court challenges against the federal backstop program (read ClimeCo’s News Hit on the federal backstop for background information on the program). In these debates, the statistic for Canada has been cited repeatedly. It commonly raises the question, “Why should Canada “do more” when it contributes so little to global emissions?”

The 1.6% number lends itself to the conclusion that “we” are not the real problem and efforts to reduce Canada’s emissions may not even make a small dent in total global emissions. However, recent reflections on some of my own lifestyle choices and the environmental impact of those choices made me stop and ask myself whether this conclusion is reasonable and if this 1.6% number is representative of how the world works. In the words of Peter Stockland, which he wrote in an opinion article for JWN Energy, “because if the point of citing any particular number is not its accuracy, but its ease of being remembered by those one seeks to persuade about species extinction, then we’re simply dealing with the grim science of cynical political marketing [2].”

Chart courtesy of BBC News

There is misalignment between reported emissions and their true representative impact because methods utilized to account and report national-level emissions do not capture emissions associated with imported consumer products; GHG accounting begins and ends at national borders. Several Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) countries, Canada included, have outsourced much of their GHG intensive industries. Therefore, when a national inventory exercise is completed, the emissions associated with the manufacturing and shipping of those products are not captured or reported.

Canadians enjoy a wonderfully high standard of living, due in part to having access to a variety of low-cost products imported from countries where goods can be manufactured more economically. Per Statistics Canada, Canada imports more than it exports; In March of 2019, tradingeconomics.com reported that Canada’s purchases of imported consumer goods reached a record $10.9 billion.  So, the question then becomes: Is it fair to use a number, like 1.6%, that may not accurately represent the true impact of our way of life as the standard for changing it?

National versus global GHG accounting is an ever more important issue and one of the challenges that we face as we come closer to negotiating the details in Article 6 of the Paris Agreement, and as countries finalize or work towards achieving their National Determined Contributions (NDC’s). If we are to begin global trading of emissions reductions in the form of internationally transferred mitigation outcomes (ITMO’s), then we need to ensure that accurate and fair global GHG accounting and reporting mechanisms are in place. This is a hard exercise, the solutions of which are extremely complex. However, it is also a very worthy exercise; approximately half of all NDC’s that have been submitted indicate a preference or intention to use international market-based mechanisms (i.e. emissions trading) to meet their reductions (see IETA, April 2019). 

We need to reflect on how we are representing the various contributors to climate change and how optics really matter in the conversation. Sometimes the most accurate answer to a problem is not the most popular – which is to say that we all really need to change our consumer habits to make a difference in global emissions; emissions are ultimately driven by consumerism. This is a huge challenge, to say the least; personally, I enjoy living in a single detached home, our family drives two large gasoline vehicles, we shop at big box stores and usually don’t pay particular attention to where a product is from when we make a purchasing decision, we buy single-use items for birthday parties and other occasions, we throw away food that we have not consumed before the use-by date, and we go for coffee and use single-use cups, even while we have a drawer full of re-usable mugs at home. I don’t think our experience differs significantly from other Canadians. It is hard to change behavior. While, ideally, production may one day be decoupled from GHG emissions, we are not there yet.

On the other hand, my family is trying hard to be better stewards of the environment.  We try to turn off the lights when we leave a room, try to remember to use reusable grocery bags, participate in our city’s composting and recycling programs, try to make our home more energy efficient, try to eat less meat, and opt to offset our emissions when presented the choice. At the end of the day, will these small behavior changes be enough to offset our other consumer habits? Are these small behavior changes just stepping-stones to the bigger, more transformative changes that are being called for?

I am proud to say that as an employee of ClimeCo, my own personal carbon footprint is mitigated as part of a company-wide initiative. I truly believe that offsetting our personal emissions is one way that we can help to drive those transformative changes.  An offset purchase is like an investment in a clean energy or emission reduction project; the more people that invest, the more projects that can be collectively built. Historically, there have been significant barriers that have prevented individuals from participating in the offset market in a meaningful way, but technological advances (i.e. blockchain) are making it ever more likely that one day soon, the emissions associated with every purchase we make can be mitigated at the point of sale.  

So, what is the solution for more representative national GHG accounting and reporting? How do we get to a number that accurately represents and captures all the emissions that the people of a nation actually generate through their lifestyle choices? Honestly, I don’t think our accounting methods are the problem. Instead of changing them, we need to remove the finger pointing from the climate change debate and look inwards to hold ourselves accountable – because, after all, we are all in this together.

[1] https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-46384067

[2] https://www.jwnenergy.com/article/2019/5/opinion-reasoned-skepticism-about-climate-change-healthy/

About the Author

Jessica Campbell has significant experience with policy developers and has gained valuable expertise in provincial (AB) climate change policy as well as in landfill and manure diversion/anaerobic digestion (biogas, RNG) offset protocols. She holds a Master of Science with a specialization in sustainable energy development (SEDV) from the University of Calgary. Jess is a registered environmental professional in training (EPt) with ECO Canada.