New carbon calculator conserves forests

December 11, 2007

A quick and cool way to help combat climate change is now available at www.conservation.org/carboncalculator.

Lively videos and stunning images are featured in Conservation International’s (CI) new online carbon calculator, which helps people easily calculate how much they are adding to global greenhouse gases. The CI carbon calculator offers a way to offset those emissions by helping protect tropical forests from being burned and cleared.

Tropical deforestation emits at least 20 percent of total greenhouse gases that cause climate change -- more than all the world’s cars, SUVs, trucks, trains and airplanes combined. Sporting a novel, upbeat design, CI’s user friendly calculator determines personal or family carbon emissions from home energy, vehicle, travel and diet behaviors, or from an individual event or travel.

“Most people don’t realize that the meat and food items they eat, the soaps and shampoos they use, even some of the biodiesel and ethanol biofuels powering their cars come from cleared tropical forests,” said Michael Totten, CI’s Chief Adviser for Climate, Water and Ecosystem Services. “This calculator shows them how big of an impact they are making, and how to offset the damage by protecting tropical forests that contain some of the world’s richest biological diversity and life-sustaining benefits critical to the wellbeing of local populations.”

Most web-based carbon calculators focus on reducing a person’s carbon footprint through energy solutions, mainly by the purchase of renewable “green” power such as capturing land-fill methane gas, or wind power or energy efficiency options. While CI advocates those options as well, CI’s calculator is a quick and easy way to calculate carbon footprints, learn about ways to reduce emissions, and contribute to one of the least addressed and most important ways to combat climate change – protecting existing tropical forests.

Reducing emissions from deforestation is one of the most effective ways of keeping greenhouse gases out of the atmosphere. The United States and China are the world’s two largest emitters due to industry emissions; Brazil and Indonesia are ranked third and fourth due to tropical deforestation.

Users of the CI online tool can offset emissions by donating to the long-term management of threatened forests requiring immediate protection, while at the same time returning the greatest results. CI is establishing forest-carbon projects in Brazil, Colombia, China, Ecuador, Guatemala, Indonesia, Liberia, Madagascar, Mexico, Peru and the Philippines.

CI and partners designed these projects to provide multiple benefits. In addition to storing carbon dioxide, they conserve critical habitat for plant and animal species, and protect important ecosystems that provide sustainable income for local communities and benefits for all people. All of the conservation carbon projects are designed to comply with standards set by the Climate, Community and Biodiversity Alliance, a partnership between leading companies, nonprofit organizations and research institutes. The Alliance was developed to enable independent verification that concrete benefits are realized for climate protection, biodiversity conservation, and local community benefits.

The CI carbon calculator and offset projects respond to public surveys showing that the majority of Americans are concerned about climate change. The calculator was designed to be transferred easily to other sites that wish to offer the tool.

Source: Conservation International

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