The first worldwide agreement to curb the consequences of climate change is now a fact. However, before we go dancing in the streets, the governments of the world must take action to leave coal, gas and oil in the ground in order that the agreed upon 1.5 degrees Celsius limit to global warming actually happens.
Fortunately, because the price of oil is now so low, it is unprofitable to extract hydrocarbon fuels from some of the largest reserves in the world, such as the tar sand deposits in Alberta, Canada.
Saudi Arabia, meanwhile, is pumping oil at a rate that keeps global prices low, perhaps as a way of limiting competition and getting as much of its reserves to market as soon as it can. Unfortunately, enormous amounts of capital have already been invested in extraction of high cost fuel and lobbying efforts continue to insure that our government will favor a return on those investments. In the U.S. all of the Republican candidates for president are climate change deniers, as are the majority of the members of Congress that are needed to enact legislation guaranteeing that COP21 goals are met. This does not bode well for the success of COP21.
However, as individuals concerned with climate change disruption, rather than wait and hope that world governments take measures to limit the rise in global temperature to 1.5o C, we can do on our own what governments must do. We can completely compensate for the gas, oil, and coal we use for transportation, home heating and cooling, and home electrical energy. We can limit our personal carbon foot print well below the targets agreed upon in Paris. Here’s how.
We can purchase Renewable Energy Credits or RECs to offset our fossil fuel use. A REC is the equivalent of offsetting 1,000 kWh of electricity use. The REC we purchase is guaranteed by the Environmental Protection Agency to offset hydrocarbon fuel used by new wind, solar, or biofuel produced energy. Every REC purchased is unique and cannot be sold to anyone other than the individual who first purchases it. The money goes toward building new, green, energy producing infrastructure such as wind turbines.
There are a number of organizations that make RECs available that are listed on the EPA web site. Some sites such as Terra Pass have calculators so we can determine our carbon footprint and purchase the number of RECs to offset our use. Others such as Sterling Planet have simple-to-use approximations of the fossil fuels we use both for home and travel along with monthly purchase plans.
For around $20.00 per month most of us can offset our use of fossil fuels and make sure we have done what the world’s governments must do to ensure the future of our planet. (It makes a great holiday gift for our planet.)