Thanks, I was not aware (or read it long ago and forgot) of SolarAid, and I particularly like the associated health and economical benefits. But it’s hard to make recommendations based on an evaluation from 2013 without at least a confirmatory follow up.
Regarding the low costs to offset, indeed, I got incredulous looks and comments about the cost to offset the carbon emissions from the entire company for a whole year as being too low to be accurate… I would say that there was even willingness to spend more (i.e., offset more than what we calculated) since the costs were so cheap. I would need a good argument for why the company should do that, but maybe I can find some for next year’s calculation.
Personal reflection: Most opportunities to discuss this with people around me come up when they want to offset a flight or their yearly emissions. In line with your reasoning above the dollar amount for offsetting is surprisingly low to most people, which might be met by incredulity. In those cases it doesn’t seem like they have a fixed amount of money in mind, but rather an amount of CO2, meaning me recommending an effective charity for offsetting just means they get to keep more of their money for other spending (in most cases of people asking me for advice unlikely to be charitable).I have been thinking about the best ways to approach this. Foremost I would always use the upper bound of the Founder’s Pledge report, it’s still not at a $/ton level that gets people worried. Then there are some options… A) Use a more “mainstream” offset calculator to get a higher dollar amount needed, but use that full dollar amount to offset a higher amount of CO2 with an effective charity.B) Try to reason from a “How much are you ready to spend on this?” viewpoint, where social pressure will make them suggest higher amounts per CO2e than the FP report estimates. If their reasoning is on the low side of things, one can always nudge them toward A) C) Point to the cheap cost per ton and try to get them to offset their whole lifestyle rather than just a particular flight.D) Start from B), but suggest that the difference between [Ready to spend amount] – [Cost of offsetting according to FP report] should go to a charity within a more highly prioritized cause area than climate change in order to both put the conscience at rest while also taking the opportunity to do more good.
Great point for other people who are tring this!
I faced this dilemma when calculating the amount to be donated to CATF. My colleagues raised that we perhaps should use the ‘average cost’ to offset a ton of CO2 (assumed as $10) for the calculation. I was fine with the approach, of course, but since it was mainly one partner in the company that did the offset I did not want to multiply the sum by a factor of 5, in which case he may not have been willing to just pay for it himself and instead raise it to all the partners where it could have been blocked (unfortunately I think one of the partners would block such contribution).
I may raise this when calculating and offsetting the emmissions for 2019.
PS: I always used the upper boundaries for the $/CO2 estimate as well as any other aspects of the calculation, even adding a 25% of the calculated CO2 as ‘unnacounted elements’ (some known, some unknown).
True, it seems like solar-aid’s own estimate these days suggests around $5 per tonne. I can’t find a more recent external review unfortunately.