This thesis is carbon neutral

Thanks to a gift from my mother, I have been able to add the following to the opening section of my thesis:

This thesis, which generated about six tonnes of carbon dioxide from flights, paper production, printing, heating, and electricity usage has been carbon-neutralized through NativeEnergy. This was done by capturing methane from an American farm.

Six tonnes should cover my personal energy usage, as well as flights to and from Vancouver and emissions associated with printing the thesis. I have also included an estimate for my share of the power used by the server hosting this site. Methane is twenty-one times more potent a greenhouse gas than CO2 and livestock agriculture produces about 18% of global emissions (discussed earlier).

The majority of NativeEnergy is owned by the The Intertribal Council On Utility Policy: a not-for-profit council of federally recognized Indian tribes in North and South Dakota, Nebraska and Iowa, with affiliates throughout the northern Great Plains. The gift is much appreciated.

While I realize that carbon offsets are not a viable mechanism to deal with the whole problem of climate change, they are a good way to make a statement about the issue, as well as avoid charges of hypocrisy when expending energy on climate research or advocacy. They have been discussed here before.

Author: Milan

In the spring of 2005, I graduated from the University of British Columbia with a degree in International Relations and a general focus in the area of environmental politics. In the fall of 2005, I began reading for an M.Phil in IR at Wadham College, Oxford. Outside school, I am very interested in photography, writing, and the outdoors. I am writing this blog to keep in touch with friends and family around the world, provide a more personal view of graduate student life in Oxford, and pass on some lessons I've learned here.

7 thoughts on “This thesis is carbon neutral”

  1. I was curious about how the livestock emissions were offset. It took a little bit of hunting to discover – go here then find the “GRID CONNECTED FARM METHANE PROJECTS”.

  2. The baffling menu of emissions-offset options

    WHEN all you want is a drinkable wine at an affordable price, the sommelier’s list in a posh restaurant can seem more of a hindrance than a help. So it is with carbon offsets. The list of options can seem long and confusing when set against the simple objective of getting somebody else to reduce greenhouse gases on your behalf. And, given the intangible nature of offsets, buying a dodgy short on a tonne of carbon is just as easy as getting a corked bottle.

  3. Carbon offsets are becoming a desirable green consumer product. They are a good thing insofar as they provide support for low-carbon infrastructure. They are a poor thing insofar as they become indulgences. As you no doubt know, buying offsets should in no way substitute for reducing your individual emissions, making good consumer decisions, and agitating for change. You do not get to buy an unnecessarily large car and try to make it OK by buying an offset, because the carbon your car produces is not removed. There are multiple business models at work in the carbon-offset market, and the regulations and oversight that do exist are not only diverse but also basically voluntary. It can be hard to know whether a company is reputable, and/or if their projects work.

  4. The Voluntary Carbon Offsets Information Portal, of the Tufts Climate Initiative and the Stockholm Environment Institute, is a nice clear compilation of basic information about carbon offsets, their purpose, and when to consider using them (also great for the rest of you who are confused by my muy brief overview). They describe the criteria by which you should judge any company selling offsets, and evaluate and recommend 13 specific companies.

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