Carbon Consciousness & Action

The Carbon Pledge

Carbon Pledge Classic PhotoI have contributed to the carbon pollution shrouding our Earth;

Now, therefore,

I pledge to no longer add to the problem;

I will cut my carbon use by 25% each of the next three years

I will offset the carbon I emit

I will encourage my friends to do the same

I will support policies which reduce carbon pollution.

I will do my share.

. . .

. . .

What is the responsibility of each of us to reduce carbon pollution?   The Carbon Pledge defines those responsibilities as reducing our personal carbon use substantially, offsetting the carbon we do use, and supporting policies that reduce carbon pollution.

The first part of the Carbon Pledge recognizes that each of us has made a substantial contribution to the carbon pollution shrouding the Earth. The average American emits 17 tons of CO2 annually.

The second part of the Carbon Pledge defines a realistic goal for cutting our carbon pollution, recognizing that it is impossible to eliminate all carbon emissions, and that substantial reductions have to occur over time. The 25% per year reduction target for 3 years would reduce the average American’s carbon emissions from 17 tons of CO2 annually to 7, or to about the level of the average person in France or Italy.

The third part of the pledge asks that people offset their carbon.   Carbon offsets ask the user to contribute financially to a tree-planting or other project that will reduce carbon emissions by an amount equal to carbon they emit, thereby providing consumers an opportunity to effectively eliminate their net carbon pollution, and financially incentivizing consumers to reduce their emissions as much as possible.

Encouraging friends to become carbon neutral is a key part of the pledge. Presently, using vast amounts of carbon for recreation and other non-essential purposes is entirely acceptable and without social stigma. By asking one another to participate in the pledge, the pledge can spread and gain importance as a carbon reduction vehicle.

Supporting carbon reduction policies is the final part of the pledge. The environmental movement has viewed efforts to promote individual carbon reduction efforts as an unwelcome distraction from focus on national and international climate policy, and as a way for fossil fuel companies to deflect blame from themselves onto consumers.   The carbon pledge asks citizens to take three actions simultaneously—to take responsibility for their own personal consumption, to encourage their friends to do likewise, and to also take action at a policy level. All three of these actions reinforce one another in a virtuous cycle. If I stop my carbon pollution, my friend is more likely to stop his. If my friend and I stop carbon-polluting, we are more likely to convince our government to stop carbon-polluting. If government policies shift to make it easier for me to avoid using carbon, it is easier for me to stop carbon polluting.

How do you see the carbon pledge? Would you be willing to take it? Which parts of the pledge do you agree and disagree with? What would make it catch on?

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