Tag Archives: carbon

the carbon authority: part one

carbon-neutralIn a swath of green fury, there is a whole new market emerging which most consumers have heard of but for the most part, have no clue if it will ever become relevant to their daily lives.   To some degree none of us know what role our march toward a carbon neutral economy will play in our not-too-distant future yet there are signals locally and globally that the carbon market may ultimately play a significant role in our daily choices.  The question is  – who will guide us in the adoption of practices that will truly help us understand this market.

To a certain degree, it is probably too early to ask this question.  The early days of the mobile phone industry were governed by industry wide regulation, distribution and demand.  Demand drove consumers to purchase despite mass confusion over cost protocol and brand authorities didn’t emerge until the market had stabilized and penetrated the most sought after consumer – the teen.  It took us over a decade to begin to feel like we understood how to evaluate “Rollover minutes” against “Nights and Weekends Free” against “myFaves” (although one could argue we still don’t know why we’re locked into two year contracts).

So, it’s likely that we are ten even twenty years before we truly begin to understand what the outcomes of all the debate in Washington and abroad is about as it relates to understanding our role in neutralizing the carbon in our atmosphere.  This is an operational challenge that will be driven by regulation not demand.   Yet there seems to be market activity that signals this evasive concept-commodity could and actually is being productized at a mass consumer level.

Many airlines now offer individuals the opportunity to purchase carbon offsets at the point of their ticket purchase and online calculators such as Terrapass provide individuals and businesses the opportunity to purchase carbon credits to offset their output.  Termed “offsets” these credits are the product of a  financial mechanism created to regulate carbon output and including organizations naturally protecting sequestered carbon.  Most of us have begun to hear the term “offset” but will readily admit we have no idea what it really means, let alone starting to dig deeper to know what “standard” the carbon has been verified against to determine its true value.

The interesting question is,  who will emerge to be the (brand) authority in this new market?  What business and in what tier of the consumer eco-system will emerge to establish credibility and drive the standard to which we will make our assessments? And what industry can we look to previously that might shed some light on where this new market might be going?

carbon consumerism

Innovation is born of necessity.  And strangely the carbon cap and trade system just might fit into that category.  History has proven that we need crisis to catalyze change.  And then it requires everyone, and I mean everyone, to understand and participate in the solution.  So while the cap and trade system is targeted at businesses, consumers will play a huge reinforcement role.  Enter ideas like the Carbon Quotient Project.  The CQ is an extension of similar concepts launched in Thailand and Japan that essentially strive to create a standard unit for product labels.  Much like the nutritional fact labels that adhere to all packaged food products, the CQ could give us GHG’s emitted, reduced or otherwise advise on a stand unit of measure for the carbon footprint of each product.  We, the consumer, then have the ability to offset our bag of potato chips or bottle of beer by riding our bike to work or simply not purchasing.  There are actually a million different behaviors that this could launch but the bottom line is that we would start to become educated relative to a standard unit (so the theory goes), hold businesses accountable and gradually start to bring about global responsibility and accountability for how businesses are impacting the deteriorating environment around us.   It has been said before but change is incremental.