Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Christmas Presents for the Planet

Want to give a more thoughtful gift this year than another tie or sweater or crummy box of chocolates. How about giving a gift that helps the planet and your fellow earthly inhabitants?

Get a Terra Pass!
http://www.terrapass.com/

For as little as $29.95 you can buy a carbon offset for a car, house, or airplane trip. A Carbon Dioxide offset reduces your carbon footprint, in other words the CO2 gases being released in the atmosphere due to your every day activities.

Give the gift that future generations will appreciate! - IFK Editor

4 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I enjoyed your post on carbon offsets. Indeed we should all be doing our part. But you should also be promoting value in the carbon offset market so that people can increase the amount of carbon offset. Marketing hype is just that, hype.

Take a look at Carbonfund.org. They offer the exact same level of environmental protection – green power and CCX credits- for just $14.97, half the cost of TerraPass. The buyer could spend the same dollars on Carbonfund and retire twice the carbon. And since Carbonfund is a non-profit, the offset is tax deductible, reducing the overall cost another 15-20% for most people allowing them to offset 2.5 times as much carbon for each dollar spent. Why would anyone go with another group?

Carbonfund is also listed as the best value in carbon offsets by the Ecobusinesslinks.com Survey (at www.ecobusinesslinks.com/offsets).

Fighting global warming is critical to our future and Mr. Kerry no doubt wants to support cost effective and efficient environmental solutions.

7:33 AM  
Anonymous Adam Stein said...

Hi IFK,

Thanks for the link. TerraPass has an array of holiday gifts for all sorts of budgets and lifestyles. Students, travelers, home owners, car drivers -- we've got everyone on your list covered. Every TerraPass comes with a fun keepsake of the offset purchase, plus a holiday card. We even offset the emissions from shipping your holiday purchase. Check it out:

http://www.terrapass.com/gift

To the anonymous commenter -- we have always strived to make TerraPass the best value in the carbon offset industry, and I believe we have succeeded. Our products offer a combination of high environmental quality, affordable prices, and rigorous third-party verification. We are the first in the industry to seek third-party auditing, and we are the only ones in the industry to publicly publish a third-party verification report confirming that we adhere to the high standards we set for ourselves. This is part of the value we offer.

I'm not sure what you're referring to when you talk about "marketing hype" -- our marketing budget is within a rounding error of zero. Most people hear of us through word of mouth. We're just grateful that people are responding to our mission to put tools for combating climate change in the hands of individual citizens.

Regarding the web page you link to, I should first note that it isn't even accurate. It doesn't have our prices right. More importantly, it does not, as you claim, rate anyone as the best value in the offset industry. In fact, the word value doesn't appear anywhere on the page. Rather, the linked-to article identifies the cheapest provider in the industry. Perhaps that is your definition of value. It isn't ours.

TerraPass is one of the lowest-cost providers in the industry, and we intend to remain that way. Some other providers will always be cheaper than we are, because they are buying cheaper offsets. That's fine. We construct our offset portfolio carefully, and we are happy with the balance we are striking between affordability and quality. I encourage people to check out our site and see for themselves.

Adam Stein

6:53 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Adam (from Terrapass),

Nice try, but as an educated consumer your value argument for high-priced offsets is just more hype and spin. Terrapass offers CCX tons for 50-100% more than Carbonfund, and more than several other groups too, and your offsets are not tax deductible. Period.

Contrary to your spin, value is a function of quality and price.

Taking CCX tons, which represent 2/3’s of the TerraPass portfolio, the price today is $4.25 per metric ton (www.chicagoclimateexchange.com). This is the price CCX members pay. Terrapass and Carbonfund each purchase CCX tons making the quality the same. Imagine someone trying to dispute the quality of two shares of Microsoft and justifying paying twice the price for one of the shares. In the case of carbon offsets, carbon is carbon. You can't jazz it up. Transparent markets can be tough.

So if quality is the same, then look at price. The Carbonfund charges just $5.50 per metric ton, a decent mark-up. They also publish their price, providing transparency. Terrapass charges $8.80-11.00 per metric ton according to the survey. You say the Ecobusinesslinks website price is inaccurate but you fail to correct it. Please tell everyone what you charge per ton of CCX credits.

Lastly, your effort to call providers that charge less than you cheap (while you are conveniently low-cost), and insinuating a lower quality, is silly and just more spin. Does this make Terrapass cheap and lower quality compared to a $20 ton? Be real. Organizations with a lower mark-up for the exact same environmental protection are simply a better value.

While this may seem an odd forum for this discussion (though why IFK is promoting companies over nonprofits for holiday gifts is beyond me) it is extremely important for the John Kerry movement. If IFK or John Kerry is promoting expensive solutions to global warming when less expensive options are available, what does that say about his commitment to fiscal responsibility and common sense? Will John Kerry spend $200 billion to solve global warming when he could do it just as effectively for $100 billion? What does it say about the hundreds of financial decisions a president must make? Democrats have enough trouble convincing the American public they will spend your money wisely, certainly an apples-to-apples comparison for a commodity should be a no-brainer.

1:46 PM  
Anonymous Adam Stein said...

Anonymous,

Quality across providers is not necessarily the same, and neither is base price. You seem to regard this as "spin," instead of what it is: a fact.

Contrary to what you claim, carbon is not carbon. Or at least, a carbon offset is not a carbon offset. They vary dramatically in source, price, and quality. Perhaps this will some day be a commodity market, but today it is not.

Offset quality might sound like a nebulous term, but it's not. It's tied to issues such as the date of maturity of the offsets, the verification regime, and various tests for additionality.

Further, your numbers are simply wrong. They're wrong at every level:

1) You cannot gauge a player's base cost in this market by taking the spot price on the CCX. It's a common fallacy, but a fallacy nonetheless. Carbon prices range dramatically.

2) You cannot infer markup levels from a vendor's retail price. In general, differences in retail price are driven by differences in base price. Some low-price vendors are marked up even more heavily than higher-priced vendors.

A share of Microsoft is a share of Microsoft. The same is not true of carbon.

1:52 PM  

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