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Posts Tagged ‘carbon neutral’

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Photo: KerryCan/Etsy
Online markets like Etsy and Amazon currently rely on fossil fuels for deliveries, which is why Etsy is leading the way in addressing climate effects.

I’m happy to see that more individuals and organizations are taking action against the climate crisis. In this story it’s Etsy, the site where many people sell handcrafts. (I hope you have checked out blogger KerryCan’s gorgeous vintage linens there.)

As Emily Dreyfuss wrote in February at Wired magazine, the online market favored by “indie makers” is working toward a carbon neutral future.

“Tomorrow, all the carbon emissions spewed into the atmosphere from US ecommerce deliveries — some 55,000 metric tons of CO2, by one estimate, from trucks and planes shipping packages across the country — will be neutralized.

“It’s all thanks to Etsy, the global online market for indie makers, which is picking up the tab on high-quality carbon offsets for itself as well as its competitors on Thursday. Etsy’s largesse ends after tomorrow, but it will continue to offset its own carbon footprint going forward, becoming the first ecommerce company to completely offset all its emissions generated from shipping.

“Etsy estimates that doing so will cost less than a penny per package — less than $1 million for the year. The company made more than $200 million in just the last quarter of 2018. The price of covering the industry’s emissions for one day won’t even reach six figures.

“ ‘It’s a pretty trivial cost,’ says Etsy CEO Josh Silverman, who joined the company in 2017 and has been credited with turning around its fortunes. Before he joined, the company’s sales seemed poised to be gobbled up by Amazon. Though Amazon has only continued to dominate — accounting for almost 50 percent of total online sales last year, by one estimate — Etsy has regained its foothold on the craft market. …

“Silverman sees tackling sustainability as core to his stewardship of the brand. Ecommerce has come under scrutiny for its environmental consequences, but Silverman believes Etsy sellers and customers are eager to minimize their harm to the planet. …

“If every ecommerce company offset its emissions, it would make a difference. Transportation is the single biggest source of greenhouse gas emissions, according to the US Environmental Protection Agency — more than electricity or industry. …

“If Amazon wanted to offset its shipping emissions now, some back-of-the-envelope math using available numbers suggests how much it might cost. The company says it shipped over 5 billion items using Amazon Prime in 2017. Amazon Prime, with its free two-day delivery, has been accused of having a larger environmental impact, since the expedited time frame can make bundling items in the same package or delivery vehicle less practical. If each of those items was shipped separately, and if I borrow from Etsy’s calculation that it costs less than a penny per package to offset emissions, then it would cost Amazon less than $50 million to offset the emissions of Amazon Prime shipments in a year … less than 5 percent of Amazon’s reported $11.2 billion profit from 2018. …

“While experts agree that carbon offsets are the best option for an organization wanting to take immediate action, they caution that it’s a stopgap measure and not a solution to climate change. ‘Offsets are sort of second best because, essentially, what it does is allow you to continue emitting, and what we have to actually do is stop emitting,’ says Phil Duffy, president of the Woods Hole Research Center, the leading climate change think tank in the US. …

“Etsy knows this. According to Mozen and Silverman, the company’s goal is to eventually cut down on actual emissions. … Today it becomes the first ecommerce company to offer its customers the promise that packages delivered from Etsy are not hurting Earth. It’s a pretty good start.”

Until Amazon gets serious about its impact on the climate, maybe you’d rather find what you’re looking for at Etsy. Read more at Wired, here.

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Photo: Reuters/Bob Strong
Cities consume more than two-thirds of the world’s energy. Copenhagen is a city that’s determined to become the first carbon-neutral capital and, in the process, is showing that sustainability improvements are good for the economy.

Copenhagen, where Erik’s Swedish-Danish relatives live, is showing the world that cutting carbon emissions to fight global warming can actually reduce energy prices and boost the economy. In a win-win for all concerned, big steps by the local energy company are complemented by the small steps of individuals who know that biking everywhere is good for both the environment and personal health.

Lin Taylor writes for the World Economic Forum, “Around the world, more than 70 major cities have pledged to end their reliance on fossil fuels and stop pumping out climate-changing emissions by 2050.

“But Copenhagen — a city of wind turbines, bicycles and reliable public transportation – thinks it can go even further: It intends to accomplish that shift in just seven years. It will require a complete reimagining of how the Danish capital is powered and designed — and a lot of cyclists. …

“While other cities have parking garages for cars, Copenhagen has them for bicycles. Virtually all its 600,000 residents own a bicycle, and the city has 375 kilometres of dedicated cycle lanes.

“The harbour-rimmed municipality also is mostly powered by clean energy — and it has its own renewable energy company and wind turbines. Running its own energy systems is one of the reasons Copenhagen is already well on track to being carbon neutral – meaning it will produce no more carbon emissions than it can offset elsewhere. …

“In 2017, Copenhagen produced about 1.37 million tonnes of climate-changing gases, down 40 percent from 2005, according to city figures. That’s about 2.2 tonnes of emissions per capita, one of the lowest rates for a European city. The city said the reduction in emissions was largely due to a switch to wind energy under HOFOR, the city’s own utility company. …

“Around the world, cities consume more than two-thirds of the world’s energy and account for about three-quarters of carbon dioxide emissions, according to the United Nations. That means finding ways for cities to become carbon neutral will be key to meeting the Paris commitment to keep the rise in global temperatures to ‘well below’ 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. …

“In its quest to cut emissions, Copenhagen has another distinct advantage: For over 100 years, the city — and Denmark as a whole — has relied on district heating, a system where heat is produced and supplied from one neighbourhood or area plant, instead of per household. That means the city itself can make the switch to cleaner energy for large numbers of residents, cutting carbon emissions by over half compared to the use of individual gas or oil boilers, HOFOR says.” It adds:

“The city also has a newly-built district cooling system, which uses seawater to cool buildings and households, cutting energy consumption up to 80 percent compared to traditional methods of air-conditioning.

“By 2025, the city aims to be powered entirely by wind, sun, geothermal energy, waste, and wood and other biomass. Yet despite its huge investment in new, clean technologies, one of the city’s big priorities is cutting prices for energy users. …

“[Jørgen Abildgaard, director of the city’s climate programme,] said it was crucial to work closely with industries such as construction and transport to devise business models and technologies that work both to meet business goals and cut emissions. …

“As the city’s emissions-cutting commitments have grown, so has its economy, which has seen 25 percent growth over the past two decades.” More at the World Economic Forum, here.

Photo: Thomson Reuters Foundation/Lin Taylor
On a typical day in August, numerous bicycles are parked on a street in central Copenhagen, Denmark.

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Is it possible for a group of people to collaborate effectively enough to make their quaint English village carbon neutral?

Tatiana Schlossberg has an answer at the New York Times: “Ashton Hayes is different in an important way when it comes to one of the world’s most pressing issues: climate change. Hundreds of residents have banded together to cut greenhouse emissions — they use clotheslines instead of dryers, take fewer flights, install solar panels and glaze windows to better insulate their homes.

“The effort, reaching its 10th anniversary this year, has led to a 24 percent cut in emissions, according to surveys by a professor of environmental sustainability who lives here.

“But what makes Ashton Hayes unusual is its approach — the residents have done it themselves, without prodding from government. About 200 towns, cities and counties around the world — including Notteroy, Norway; Upper Saddle River, N.J.; and Changhua County, Taiwan — have reached out to learn how the villagers here did it.

“As climate science has become more accepted, and the effects of a warming planet are becoming increasingly clear, Ashton Hayes is a case study for the next phase of battling climate change: getting people to change their habits.

‘We just think everyone should try to clean up their patch,’ ” said Rosemary Dossett, a resident of the village. ‘And rather than going out and shouting about it, we just do it.’

Oh, ye-es! One and one and 50 make a million.

More here.

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