Hey all you touring bands, Enterprise Car rentals just announced plans to offer cheap, high-quality carbon offsets with car and van rentals. This would make for an easy and inexpensive way to green your next tour.
The 20 to 25 million annual customers of the car rental companies can offset the CO2 emissions generated by their car rentals by opting in during the reservation process to pay $1.25 per rental.
Customer offset purchases will be matched by the company dollar-for-dollar up to $1 million. Beginning in January 2008, the program will be offered at participating locations in the U.S. and Canada; it will be extended to Enterprise’s European customers in mid-2008.
TerraPass will administer the carbon offset program. Customers will be able to purchase their carbon offsets while booking their reservations through call-in reservation centers or online at the car rental sites.
Inc. Magazine has an in-depth article on how Enterpise came to offer voluntary offsets.
It will be interesting to see what, if anything, Hertz and Avis will offer in response. Along with Enterpise, these rental companies have added thousands of hybrids to their fleets recently.
Last October, Enterprise announced it was underwriting the planting of 50 million trees over the next 50 years at a total cost of $50 million.
European Parliament votes to require car ads include warnings on CO2 emissions-repost from Grist
The European Parliament recently voted that car ads must include warnings on vehicle CO2 emissions. If the rule successfully negotiates the rest of the European Union legislative process, 20 percent of a car ad would have to warn or educate consumers about the CO2 emitted from the vehicles advertised, as well as their fuel consumption. The 20 percent rule would apply to overall space in a print or internet ad and overall ad time for TV and radio commercials. "As you can imagine, it is not something that we would be particularly happy about," says a spokesperson for an auto industry trade group. Ad companies are also not thrilled since the rule could cut into the $8.6 billion a year that automakers in Western Europe spend on car ads.
It looks like carbon neutrality has truly reached international heights. The London Olympic Games announced their plan to green the event, AND its predominant symbol: the Olympic torch! Says a spokesperson for the the London 2012 Olympics (posted on Environmental Graffiti):
“We want London 2012 to be a truly sustainable Games. Using a low-carbon fuel to light the Olympic flame and keep it burning throughout the Games is one of the many things we are looking at right now to deliver a ‘green games’.”
“The Olympic games and Paralympic games have the power to set agendas, and change behaviour, and applying sustainability principles to one of the most potent symbols of the Games will, we hope, help us do just that.”
The 2012 London Games will also employ many other green measures that stand to drastically reduce the environmental impact of the event. See here for more information.
Most currently, the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games have not been without controversy. Deemed the "Genocide Olympics" by advocates for peace in Darfur, the clip below explains China's link to the terrible violence plaguing Darfur:
While the time line between now and the next Olympics is short, we can only hope that advocates for peace in Darfur can use the Olympic Games publicity as leverage to convince China to change their policies. This issue, and more the more positive, proactive approach taken by London Olympics organizers, shows the an amazing transformation within our culture. No longer do events report only their intrinsic functions, but they serve as a platform to mobilize millions of people on an international level to change behaviors and bring about a more humane, sustainable world.
As reported by Fox News (!) and The Daily Green, a group of musicians led by aging rockers Bonnie Raitt, Jackson Browne, and Graham Nash are joining up to fight a federal loan guarantee provision for nuclear power that is messing up an otherwise decent energy bill. I'm neither here nor there on nuclear, preferring negawatts to megawatts, but the libertarian in me doesn't like big subsidies for big business. So rock on, Bonnie! To sign the petition and see a full list of artists against nuclear power, check out NukeFree.org.
Via EcoRazzi, Guster's Adam Gardner headlined a hearing on biofuels in our nation's illustrious capitol. Adam's pretty deeply involved in the green music biz--look for an interview with him in the coming weeks if I can wrangle one.
The Scotsman reports on a wind-up MP3 player. CNet has a good review, but at $350 for only 2gigs of storage, this one's not exactly going to fly off the shelves, but who knows, maybe Apple will be inspired to do it better.
In the words of the immortal Norman Greenbaum, "Skyline fading away from me. Can't no longer see the skyline.." OK! Lights Out San Francisco wasn't that dramatic and the actual energy reduction figures aren't in yet, but the skyline definitely looked a little darker as I rode back from Marin last night around 8:50pm. The Golden Gate bridge towers were dark. Alcatraz was dark. City Hall was dark. The Bay Bridge was half-lit. My business school classrooms were dark. The Trans-America triangle disappeared into the night sky. People in the Bay Area probably noticed Google's darkening their page for Bay Area residents (like Blackle.com).
A really great before and after photo of San Francisco is here.
Environmental Leader posted this interesting story about the question Sun Microsystems is asking, i.e. what's next if you've already brought your emissions to net zero:
David Douglas, vice president for eco-responsibility at Sun Microsystems, raised an interesting question in his blog yesterday. Sun, which released its latest CSR report earlier this month, is pretty open with the fact that it’s not ready to go carbon neutral because the company is currently focused on lowering its carbon footprint by investing in projects that have a clear ROI, rather than investing in offsets.
“There is a cost to this strategy, and that cost is that we can’t claim that we’re carbon neutral,” Douglas writes. “Right now that’s a cost we’re willing to live with.”
Then Douglas asks if a company can be double carbon neutral? “If it is good to offset your emissions, is it even better to offset your emissions twice?” Douglas asks.
It’s an interesting question. As company’s continue to raise the green PR stakes, we could see moves like this down the road.
I think it's a little early in the game to try and claim "double carbon neutrality" when good old singular carbon neutrality isn't universally defined. However, I like the concept. It thrills me to the bone that corporate commitments to the environment are firmly ingrained in a competitive business strategy. Some of the old guard may say that it's ruining the purity of the environmental movement, but on average, one behemoth corporate commitment to renewable energy has the same benefit as, on average, powering several hundred thousand homes. If we're in a race against global warming, I'd rather have the behemoths taking action. What does the old guard want, larger emissions reductions or indie cred?
In regard to double carbon neutrality, maybe taking the approach of greening the city where the home office is located or greening the CEO's university would carry the same PR benefits and offer up positive secondary effects without the awkward title. Thoughts?
This past weekend my boss sent me to the Clean Air-Cool Planet conference in Manchester, NH. Ordinarily, I'm loathe to give up my weekends for anything even remotely work-related (I am a government employee, after all), but this was actually pretty fun in a morbidly depressing sort of a way. Besides hearing that we have even less time than we thought until we lose all the fun places like Amsterdam, Key West and New Orleans (why are all the good spots so low?), I got to hear speeches from my boss at the regional level here at the EPA, his old boss Christine Todd Whitman, former head of the EPA, and several of the people who want to be her replacement's boss: Bill Richardson, John McCain, Dennis Kucinich, and Mike Huckabee. There was also some science, and a few good discussions on various topics related to global warming. I snuck out early on Friday afternoon so that I could catch game 1 of the Red Sox-Indians series (more important than global warming!), but at the expense of missing what I'm told was a very spirited discussion of CO2 offsets featuring George Hoguet of Native Energy.
While I missed seeing George speak there, I did catch his presentation the next day in a smaller session. Native Energy is the big name in offsets when it comes to music. The company offset Dave Matthews's entire touring schedule retroactively, handled the offsets for all of Live Earth, and has worked with many other big names from Bonnie Raitt to Jack Johnson. After the presentation, I cornered him and pressed him for more info on the company's work with the music industry. He passed me on to Kevin Hackett, Marketing Specialist.
Before I start, an introduction to carbon offsets is in order. The simplest explanation is that they are a way to compensate for the carbon dioxide you're responsible for when you drive, fly, or use fossil-fuel based electricity or heat. You give some money to a carbon offset program like Native Energy based on the amount of your CO2 you feel guilty about. The program takes the money does something that is supposed to either remove an equivalent amount of CO2 from the atmosphere (by planting trees, for instance) or replace a fossil-fuel burning power source (by adding wind power to the grid, for example). Native Energy takes the second approach. If you want more info, I recommend reading Grist's short and sweet description, visiting the Tuft Climate Institute's analysis of carbon offsets, or delving into Clean Air-Cool Planet's 44-page Consumer's Guide to Carbon Offsets (PDF).
There are any number of problems with carbon offsets, and I'm on the record as saying that I'd prefer people spent their carbon offset money elsewhere. As Ed Begley says in a quote I'm shamelessly stealing from Grist.org, ""[I]f you're going to drive a Hummer and buy carbon offsets, that's like getting drunk every night and getting into an AA meeting, throwing money in the basket, and leaving." More troublesome to me, having to pay extra for offsets perpetuates the notions that being carbon-neutral has to be both expensive and voluntary. But they are a first step to either a carbon tax or a cap-and-trade system, both of which I support.
But despite my general opposition to carbon offsets, it's hard not to like Native Energy. They go out of their way to address their critics and work as hard as they can to actually do good for the environment. The company is one of only four that Tufts recommends of the 13 reviewed. Native Energy is also working on a new project with the Gold Standard group to make sure that its carbon offsets pass muster with even the most stringent critics. They're majority tribally owned and are working to give Native Americans a viable source of income besides casinos. And to top it all off, they're a bunch of music lovers from Vermont.
The process of offsetting is simple. First, you decide how many tons of CO2 you want to offset and buy the credits (currently $12/ton). Native Energy takes this money and uses it to help finance either a new wind farm on Native American land or a methane powered-project on a family farm. These projects deliver renewable energy to the grid, displacing energy from fossil fuel plants. Since the fossil fuel plants burn less fossil fuel, they emit less CO2, and you can tell your friends that you're carbon neutral. After this point, Native Energy could choose to sell your CO2 offsets on the Chicago Climate Exchange (CCX), but instead it donates them to Clean Air-Cool Planet (CACP). CACP then retires the offsets, making sure they don't get double counted. For much more info, check this link.
And now, on to the interview:
Jason Turgeon: Tell me about the work Native Energy (NE) does with the music industry.
Kevin Hackett: Native Energy works with both Reverb and Music Matters on outreach. Both of them do a great job of reaching that youth market. Both take the position that they should help reduce emissions first.
JT: Do you see fans purchasing offsets? KH: Yes, both through our standard programs for their homes and through things like stickers that have tons or pounds of offsets. But it's not a huge number of fans.
JT: Can you clarify the part of the process where you donate the offsets to CACP?
KH: When someone buys an offset, they can't really show it off to their friends. It's not tangible. We donate the rights to that offset to CACP so that it can't be resold or reused or double counted. Offsets and renewable energy credits (RECs) are traded on places like the CCX. Ours are taken out of that.
JT: Who owns the projects?
KH: It depends on whether it's on tribal land or a family farm. For wind projects, the tribe owns them. On family-farm methane projects, the farmers own them. We don't own the projects, we help finance them. We provide the last 20% of the funding. Our business model is to find projects that are on the cusp of being viable and provide that little push.
KH: That's a statement that we get on a regular basis. Offsets are not the solution, they're part of a solution. Everyone we work with takes steps to reduce their emissions first. What they can't reduce, they offset. We stand by the projects that we work with. They are all truly additional projects that wouldn't happen without our funding. They're not up and running projects that are selling RECs on the CCX.
JT: You're famous for your work with Dave Matthews and Live Earth. Waht other acts have you worked with recently?
KH: Incubus, Martin Sexton Trio, Jon Butler Trio, Xavier Rudd, a lot of others.
JT: You work with Timberland, a company that is well known in the hip-hop community. Have you had any success working with hip-hop artists?
KH: No, but there's stuff coming down the pipe. We're open to working with anybody.
JT: Do you see bands rolling this into the ticket price?
KH: We've seen a lot of that. We see promotion companies doing this either as an opt-in or an opt-out.
JT: Native Energy is from Vermont. Did you work with Phish before they split up, or have you worked with any of the members on their solo tours?
KH: We haven't had any contact with them, but we're open to working with anyone.
JT: You're doing methane projects on family farms. Have you worked with Farm Aid?
KH: We have not worked with farm aid, but they would be a good fit.
JT: Is it easier to put up a windmill on tribal land than it was for Jon Fishman or Cape Wind?
KH: No, we still have to jump through all the hoops. Being majority tribal-owned certainly helps, but we have just as many hoops to jump through. It's all essentially federal land, so we have to deal with all the same regulations.
JT: What about NIMBY? Is it better on reservations?
KH: It's still an issue. In some ways, it might be worse.
JT: Are you working with anyone to certify your offsets?
KH: We haven't in the past, but the Owl Feather project will be our first gold-standard certified project. We're not doing anything differently than we would before. It's just a new bit of paperwork.
JT: What's on your ipod?
KH: Everything from Willie Nelson to Guster because we just went to the show, a little bit of hip-hop. I am a child of the eighties so there's some Ratt and Guns and Roses and Poison. I hope I didn't just turn off the jambase crowd. (laughing) JT: No, no, it's cool, we're not all 19.
Thanks again to Kevin Hackett for taking the time out for this interview. Now here's some Ratt to take it home.
Here’s a new bar we spotted in East Village at the weekend: a bar that serves only organic drinks. The site tells us that Counter martinis are made from Rain vodka - a 100% organic white corn headbasher. Cocktails include The Dirtiest Martini and, erm, Angry Lesbian.
I'm going to toss back a glass of organic wine to celebrate the day AND the fact that GreenBase passed the 100 posts mark a few weeks ago AND our fabulous new contributor, Jason! We're pleased as punch to have provided you with news on the intersection of music and climate change over the last six months. I raise my glass also to you, dear readers! Keep the tips and questions coming to email@example.com and we'll answer them as best we can. We've got some exciting new tools to share with you over the coming months, so stay tuned. Salut!
Solar panels have found a promising new place in the sun on canopies above parking lots that surround commercial and industrial buildings, Donald Shoup, a professor of urban planning at the University of California, Los Angeles, writes in a San Francisco Chronicle Open Forum piece.
To increase the use of solar on parking garages, cities can incorporate solar panels into the parking requirements for commercial developments. The legal basis for requiring solar panels atop a parking lot, according to Shoup, is similar to the basis for requiring the parking lot itself - to mitigate an impact. If a development increases the demand for scarce energy during peak hours, the solar requirement for the parking lot will help to meet this peak-hour demand.
Shoup says that California’s Million Solar Roofs program provides generous subsidies for solar panels, and the federal government offers additional tax credits, so developers won’t have to pay the full cost of a city’s solar requirement.
In addition Shoup says solar arrays are highly visible evidence of a company’s commitment to the environment.
Google has installed solar canopies on its parking lots to satisfy 30 percent of its headquarters’ power demand.
Envision Solar is just one of the companies providing such services. See their site for more info on “solar groves” over parking lots.
Al Gore shared the award with the U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a science panel who along with Mr. Gore, raised awareness about the climate crisis. Mr. Gore's share of the 1.5 Million dollar prize will be donated in full to his brand new organization, the bipartisan Alliance for Climate Protection.
Since, unlike many other Nobel honorees, most Americans understand what Mr. Gore did to achieve this award through his work making "An Inconvenient Truth", most of the news coverage centered around what, if any, political pressure the award would have on (dare I say) the other US presidential hopefuls. The Wall Street Journal says it won't do much, but we'll just have to wait and see.
Feeling like you want to raise a glass to Al? Take the Alliance for Climate Protection's pledge to: demand our politicians sign up for international greenhouse gas mitigation agreements, reduce our own greenhouse gas emissions, and put the gas face on construction of new plants that burn coal and don't clean up after themselves.
Hi there! I'm Jason Turgeon, the newest addition to the Green Base blog team. I'm excited about the opportunity to write about music and the environment, but I figured I'd start out with an introduction first. So here's me in a nutshell:
So here's the scoop. We've screwed up the planet to the point where environmentalism must now pervade everything we do, including the ways we make and listen to music. This is bigger than politics, bigger than terrorism, bigger than the Red Sox, bigger than George Bush or Vladimir Putin or the Buddhist monks in Burma or being a vegetarian or wind farms or even nuclear war. It's even bigger than Phish breaking up. In other words, freakin' enormous.
So with with the catastrophic changes that we might face, with the world literally falling apart around us and things about to get a hell of a lot worse, it can be easy to throw up our hands and bury ourselves in the music and just try to forget about it. After all, with a problem this big, there's nothing we can do, right? Um, no. Plenty of people are out there doing great things, and many of them are right here in the music scene. And while musicians aren't scientists or politicians or corporate CEOs, they can still have a tremendous positive impact. They can educate their fans, they can try out new things and share their experiences, they often have greater access to politicians than the man-on-the-street, and they can serve as role models.
My goal at this blog is not to dwell on all the negatives around us. We already know that things are in bad shape. I'm here to provide a little positive feedback and have a little fun. I'll discuss the things that musicians and the music industry as a whole are doing, and slap some wrists where it's necessary. I'll profile environmentally-minded musicians, make notes on trends in the industry, maybe even do a couple of interviews, and generally work to keep you updated on this stuff and let you know how you--as music fans--can go out and have a great time at shows without trashing the place. Stay tuned!
By the way, this weekend the Echo Project, one of the coolest fusions of music and environmentalism we've seen in a very long time, wraps up. I did a preview of this over on my other blog at melodytrip.com. Check it out if you're interested.
But enough of this envirotalk. Here's some girltalk to lift your spirits (I was at this show, it freakin' rocked!)
A new and ambitious festival has its inaugural weekend beginning on October 12. In addition to a stellar line-up, which includes the Killers, Phil Lesh, Flaming Lips and Thievery Corporation, the festival has invited more than 15 environmentally focused organizations to participate.
Fans will have the chance to explore themes as wide ranging as student green activism, Chattahoochee River restoration and green rocking (with Rock the Earth). You can check out the fully customizable schedule of events here.