My high school dreams of a carbon-based utopia
December 22, 2009
*Welcome to readers from The Tyee*
Roadshow stop: Carbon Project Solutions
Roadshow mentor: Joseph Pallant
Of the few things that stand out from my high school education is a video that I watched in my OAC World Issues Geography class. (My reference to OAC may give some indication of just how long ago this was.) In high school, videos usually meant nap time. But for this particular flick, I was compelled to stay awake. It was all about the environment–specifically global warming–which was still more than a decade away from being a household word. The video, set in a utopic future, was a mockumentary on how the world solved its environmental and social issues, such as pollution, poverty, and even war, through carbon trading. It seemed so simple–wealthier countries that exceeded their worldwide regulated carbon output quota would invest in clean energy production in developing nations. This created a reduction in the greenhouse gases pumped out into the atmosphere and stimulated economic growth in countries that needed it. Even my apathetic 18-year-old brain thought this made sense. Both my geography teacher and the video were way ahead of their time.
So why all this nostalgia about my first encounters with carbon management? It seemed appropriate, in light of the recently finished (and mostly disappointing) United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP15) to post my Roadshow stop with Joseph Pallant, the president and CEO of Carbon Project Solutions. Because Joseph is all about carbon. His company, Carbon Project Solutions, helps businesses, governments, and organizations access the carbon market and develop emission reductions projects. And he works both sides–he helps companies offset their carbon, as well as companies who have offsets to sell. (For a definition of carbon offsetting, have a look here.)
For my day at Carbon Project Solutions, Joseph approached things a bit differently than most Roadshow stops. Usually I’m given a task that requires an extra set of hands. But ever the entrepreneur, Joseph took a close look at my skill set to see how he could use it to his advantage and created a task designed specifically for me, which was to write the copy for his website. It was definitely a challenge. Because Joseph speaks and writes in “carbon-ese” or carbon jargon. But his website needed to make issues such as carbon offsetting, emissions reduction, carbon management, and what role Carbon Project Solutions plays in these issues, accessible and easy to understand by non-carbon-ese speakers. (Admittedly, this wasn’t completely unfamiliar territory for me, as one of my roles at the David Suzuki Foundation was to do exactly this. I translated complex scientific environmental issues into relevant and compelling messages that prompted people to act–specifically to donate.)
After much back and forth, Joseph and I developed a script that we both felt represented him and his company–and was concise in its message. It was a job I was happy to do. Because I believe Joseph, and individuals like him, are part of a greater movement that will make the utopic picture painted for me as a pre-adult become a reality. Sure, it may be an overly optimistic attitude, especially in light of the COP-15 outcome, but even when I wasn’t napping in high school, and currently still today, I’ve always been a bit of a dreamer.
Oh..and if anyone remembers what video it was that we watched in Mr. Annett’s OAC World Issues class circa 1995, please send me the name!
My Soapbox (It’s my soapbox and I’m going to stand on it!)
A few breakdowns and discussions on the disappointing outcomes of COP-15:
The Flopenhagen Accord
The Guardian -George Monbiot
The Guardian – John Vidal, Allegra Stratton and Suzanne Goldenberg
A cool environmental design company: