IslandVision is encouraging Mercer Island residents to voluntarily become carbon neutral through a combination of emissions reductions and offsets. Carbon neutralilty means reducing your aggregate carbon footprint to zero.
Why is this our goal?
- There is increasing and quite compelling evidence that we must reduce atmospheric CO2 concentration from its current level of 389 ppm to something significantly below that to avoid catastrophic climate change.
- Most approaches to mitigating climate change (such as Kyoto) are based on trying to stabilize atmospheric CO2 at 450 ppm, however recent scientific research suggests that this could be catastrophic.1,2 See 350.org for more details about this, as well as a recent NY Times article.
- Federal legislation will only get so far, assuming it passes through the Senate. You can help by writing your Senators to make sure this happens!
- Since within the U.S. personal emissions from household operations and transportation account for ~1/3 of total emissions, as individuals we can make a strong contribution to reducing climate problems.3
How to get started?
- Calculate your carbon footprint. In particular, its relatively easy to determine your direct footprint, and then based on this, figure out where the most impactful reductions can be made.
- Develop a plan to begin to reduce your carbon footprint. Yes! magazine published an example of this.
- An easy and immediate step to take is to sign up for green power through PSE.
- In addition to reducing your footprint each year, you can also offset the remainder. Carbon offsets allow you to mitigate a set amount of carbon through investments in clean energy and carbon capture projects. See Carbon Fund as an example of companies that facilitate this.
What are other cities doing?
- In Dec 2009, Alex Steffen called on the city of Seattle to become North America's first carbon neutral city.
- In Feb 2010, the city of Seattle stated it is aiming to become carbon neutral by 2030 (or so).
How is carbon neutrality achieved?
- It may be easy to get started, but less easy to get there, particularly without using offsets. Sightline.org has an interesting discussion about this.
2Hansen, J. et al (2008) Target Atmospheric CO2: Where Should Humanity Aim? The Open Atmospheric Science Journal, 2:217-231
3Vandenbergh, M.P. and Steinemann, A.C. (2007) The Carbon Neutral Individual. New York University Law Review, 82: 1673-1745