We have now offset another 50,000 ton CO2eq in a Gold Standard certified project! Thank you for taking part in this!
The Caribbean is a region heavily dependent on fossil fuels, while at the same time it’s a particularly promising place for renewable energies with abundant sun and wind conditions. Demand is comparatively low because the islands have small populations, which means that small scale energy solutions have the capacity to cover a large share of the energy needs.
This is our project
Aruba is one of the islands moving towards reduced dependency on fossil fuels and increased share of renewables. The first initiative for wind energy production on the island is the Wind Park Vader Piet N.V, which we are supporting through the purchase of carbon credits!
This wind park consists of 10 wind turbines that are located on an uninhabited part of the island. With a production capacity of 3 MW each, these turbines supply 12-14% of the total energy needed on the island! Since all energy consumed before the implementation of this project came from fossil fuel, the carbon intensity of the electricity available on the island was very high. Fortunately, Wind Park Vader Piet N.V has instigated a change for the better.
Plans for the future
The national energy producer, WEB Aruba, made a commitment which increased the share of renewables to 18% in 2018, and reduced the fossil fuel consumption by 40%. Moving forward, the goal is to reduce the fossil fuel consumption by a total of 67% and to increase renewables to a total of 40% by 2022. After the first wind park was built, a first solar park has also been installed and another wind park is in the development phase.
Why not 100% renewable today?
A challenge that Aruba and other small island nations is facing when transitioning to renewables is the grid stability. Wind and solar are intermittent energies, which means that energy is produced during certain times of the day when it’s sunny or windy. However, this doesn’t always correspond with the time that the energy is needed. In some cases, energy use in industries can be rescheduled to match peak energy availability hours, but for household electricity this is much harder.
To manage this, one option is to invest in energy storage such as batteries, and another one is to use a base load energy that can be adjusted to produce energy when demand is high and renewable production is low. In some cases, this can be done with geothermal energy (like our project Dora II in Turkey), more common is hydro power, nuclear energy or fossil fuels. WEB Aruba is working with a commitment to resolve this, taking into consideration that the development has to happen over time in order to maintain grid stability as infrastructure needs to keep up. It is also crucial to keep energy prices affordable to the local population. In Europe and other places, this challenge is cushioned by our interconnected grids, where energy surplus can be sent to a neighboring country, and energy can be purchased from where the production is the greenest in the moment.
Note: This is a personal story from team member Stefan
I just recently moved out of the city and to a town in the mountains of Sweden. Having always before been able to use public transportation, I found myself in a place where I now need a car to get around, while also being fully out of reach of any car sharing services. This is my story of researching reasonably priced alternatives for getting a car with the least possible climate footprint.
If you are able to use car sharing services or public transportation, you should always consider not owning a car at all. If not, read on to learn a few surprising facts that make getting a brand new electric car more reasonable than you’d think.
Requirements and options
I knew from the outset that the long-term goal was to get an electric car. I just didn’t know if our fincancial situation would support this right away. My partner and I make good money, but not by any means enough that we can afford to freely just lease or buy any car. We do, however, have the ability to increase our loans at a reasonable interest rate to be able to pay for a new car, provided that the purchase doesn’t turn into the money sink that new car purchases traditionally are.
We are looking for a car that works for typical usage. We’ll be driving both short distances and long. It’s going to be our only car. So what we end up with has to:
Have range enough to be workable on long journeys.
Be big enough that we can bring outdoors gear like skis and big backpacks on trips.
Getting into specifics, I looked into three categories of cars to consider:
Fully electric cars, new from dealerships.
Plug-in hybrid cars, second hand.
For comparison and as a last resort, lower priced regular gasoline cars, second hand.
The reason that second hand fully electric cars are not on this is that they’re very close in price to brand new cars (more on that later), and by going for a new car we would have the ability to get a tow bar that we can mount a bike rack on. If you don’t need a tow bar, there is a (small) market of second hand fully electric cars with long range (350 km/220 miles or longer). If you’re able to get one of those, you can make the financials for electric cars later in this post even better.
Plug-in hybrid cars
My initial thought was that plug-in hybrid cars would be the most reasonable option while waiting for fully electric cars to come down in price. But after looking into it, two factors make them less attractive than one would think.
First, if you regularly drive longer than the battery lasts (usually around 30-40 km/20-25 miles), you end up with a very thirsty car. Most plug-in hybrids are very heavy cars and have fuel consumption upwards of 10 l/100 km (as low as 25 mpg) after the battery depletes. For all but the very shortest trips, this defeats the fuel savings of having a battery.
Second, these cars are basically two cars in one that both need maintenance. In terms of maintenance cost, they are are, if anything, more expensive to keep running than even traditional combustion cars.
If you’re able to charge at home, drive almost exclusively within the short battery range and are strictly limited in purchase price, then maybe a plug-in hybrid car be a good option. Otherwise, I have a hard time justifying them as a way to reduce one’s carbon footprint. For us, getting an efficient combustion or non-plug-in hybrid car, would actually have been a better choice.
Brand new electric cars
Fully electric cars used to be crazy expensive, but this is fast changing. For sale right now with 350 km/220 miles of range or more in the most affordable price range are three models: the Kia e-Soul, Kia e-Niro, and Hyundai Kona Electric. Available for order this year and with delivery dates within a year you’ll also find the Volkswagen ID.3 and Skoda Enyaq iV.
All of these sell for around €45,000 (in Europe), but a few insights helped me realize this relatively high price isn’t as bad as it seems:
Many countries have government grants when buying new electric cars. In Sweden, the grant is about €5,800.
Maintenance, vehicle/road taxes, and, most strikingly, driving costs are way lower for electric cars.
Value depreciation is, as mentioned earlier, not at all as bad as with non-electric cars, especially when taking government grants into account. For the models I looked at, one year old cars with above average milage were selling for just around €5,000 – €7,000 lower than the brand new price after grants. This reasonably gets much better (on a monthly basis) if you keep the car for 2 or 3 years, but there are no numbers for that as all these models initially went for sale just last year.
So let’s look at the numbers. All figures are yearly costs in Sweden converted to Euros. I’ve used the best sources I could find, trying to find actual maintenance costs from current owners and quoting insurance for these models for myself.
New Hyundai Kona Electric
Second hand Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV (2017)
Second hand Opel Astra (2015)
Using the average yearly milage in Sweden of 15,000 km per year.
These calculations assume 50% usage on battery for the plug-in hybrid.
Electricity costs of 0.2 Euros/kWh.
At this point, before financing, we’re looking at a monthly cost of €81 for the fully electric car, as compared to €161 for the plug-in hybrid and €195 for the combustion car.
So you’ll have €114/month extra to put towards financing of the more expensive electric car. Even though this is better than one might think already, chances are that the €114 won’t be enough regardless of how you choose to finance the car. Which brings me to…
How to make the car free
More and more people want to drive electric and more and more people are looking to car sharing services to replace car ownership. So for those of us who have to own a car, let’s contribute to the other side of that equation and make our cars available for others to rent. Renters will look to the cheap-to-drive and climate friendly electric cars, and owners of those cars can use that income to bridge the cost gap compared to traditional cars.
Looking at the two big options available in Sweden, Snappcar and GoMore (also available in a number of other European countries), you can expect around €300-400/month for renting your car a few times each month. Together with the €100+/month you’re saving in driving costs, you’re now looking at upwards of €500/month in combined savings and income that can be put towards financing of the car. This sealed the deal for us, because depending on how much we rent the car out, we actually have a decent chance of having the car pay for itself entirely.
On top of that, we’re now helping others reduce their carbon footprints in addition to reducing our own.
Working hard to stop climate change and making the world a better place is great everyday life. But even heroes need holidays, to recharge the batteries and enjoy the small things around us. Stopping to smell a flower, having a cup of coffee in no rush at all, maybe even turning off the phone. Taking a break from the digital world can be so refreshing! And when you do that, what better way to spend time than with a book? We at GoClimate have a diverse taste in books, but we decided to present some related to climate change.
(Two years ago we did another blog post about this, find it HERE)
The Great Derangement: Climate Change and the Unthinkable by Amitav Gosh. The Indian novelist wrote his first non-fictional book in 20 years on the topic of climate change, highlighting the cultural shift that is needed to address this issue. Climate chance is not too unrealistic to be portrayed in popculture anymore.
The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural Story by Elizabeth Kolbert (US). This book has been very praised for how it narrates the story of the process we are currently living in, and how humans are the protagonists in this.
What We Think About When We Try Not To Think About Global Warming: Toward a New Psychology of Climate Action by Per Espen Stoknes. This is perhaps the most facts-y book on the list, where the Norwegian Psychologist identifies psychological barriers to climate action, and addresses them with concrete strategies. Now that we know what we know, how do we handle that? He also gave a TED talk on the topic!
This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. The Climate and On Fire: The (Burning) Case for a Green New Deal by Naomi Klein (Canada). This Changes everything was published in 2016, presenting a strong argument for the links between climate change and the current free market economy. This book has had a monumental impact on the climate movement, and its sequel is explaining how bold climate action can be a blueprint for a just and thriving society.
We Are the Weather: Saving the Planet Begins at Breakfast by Jonathan Safron Foer. This American author has previously produced both fiction and the arguably best book on veganism: Eating Animals. The book is a peculiar and personal take on climate change and our diets, and worth it because the writing and randomly connected thoughts are so poignant.
Oryx and Crake and The year of the Flood by Margaret Atwood (Canada). Known for an extensive body of literature (for example, The Handmaid’s Tale), Atwood is building the Maddaddam Trilogy on a backdrop of climate change. Perhaps more relaxing than the fact-filled books!
Tentacle by Rita Indiana (Dominican Rep). Not all climate books are non-fiction! This is a novel built on Caribbean storytelling, covering climate change, Yoruba rituals, time travel, queer politics, poverty, sex, colonialism and contemporary art. Try something new!
What are you reading this summer? Drop us a comment below!
So you already know that when you sign up at GoClimate, you support climate projects through carbon offsetting. But how do these projects actually work?
The main purpose of a climate project is to avoid the emission of greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere. There are different ways to do this, and the carbon market is constantly evolving with new projects and better methods for measuring emissions reductions.
One way that is easy to measure and easy to understand is therefore projects that produce renewable energy. By creating the kind of energy that does not cause emissions, we give people the opportunity to stop using fossil fuels. For example, when we build wind power in India and connect more people to the electricity grid, they no longer need to use diesel generators or burn charcoal, which is often the case before the project is implemented.
Some examples of projects that GoClimate have supported which produce renewable energy:
The reason we want to contribute to this in countries like India and Indonesia is that wind power is still too expensive to be built without the income from carbon credits – this is what is meant by additionality. Wind power can produce the same energy in Sweden, but the marginal utility will be higher elsewhere as we avoid combustion of coal and diesel and contribute to raising the standard of living on site.
Another type of climate project is the capture of greenhouse gas emissions that occur in different processes, and converting them into energy instead – so-called biogas projects. The projects often involve installing improved technology so that greenhouse gases from biodegradation of organic matter, for example in landfills or in waste water, are not released into the atmosphere but are contained and converted into energy. Here we immediately avoid the emissions, and do something useful with the energy instead! This is often a bit more expensive than, for example, building wind power, which rank among the cheapest projects.
Some examples of biogas projects which GoClimate have supported:
Another type of project aims to improve methods of cooking. A large proportion of the world’s population cook their food over open fire, which leads to deforestation when more and more people need firewood. By offering better equipment, the people responsible for cooking, usually women, do not need to collect as much wood. This saves both trees and time for them, and with the improved equipment it also reduces air pollution and air born particles, which has a positive impact on their health. These projects thus have great potential benefits, but are more difficult to implement because it implies changing behaviors, and then it is more difficult to measure the results. The risk is thus higher, but the benefits can be very significant.
GoClimate has financed a few projects of this kind:
Another type of climate project has to do with trees. This can be reforestation of areas that have been deforested, the planting of trees on areas that have not had a forest before, or protection of existing forests. Projects of this kind are incredibly important because the trees bind carbon dioxide from the air, and there are many potential benefits such as increased biodiversity, improved microclimate, etc. Nevertheless, we at GoClimate have chosen not to invest in this kind of climate project. The main reason is that the carbon that is bound in the tree is admittedly absorbed, but it is not a permanent storage of carbon dioxide as it, intentionally or unintentionally, can be released into the atmosphere again. The lack of permanence and the risks associated with it means that we do not want to offset in this kind of projects.
This is a brief summary of some different types of climate projects, but there are more on the market, and more are being developed at the time of writing. Of course, since the projects are so different, the prices of the projects vary, and there is thus no fixed price for a ton of carbon dioxide. In addition, all projects have administrative costs – if no one designs, administers and supervises the project, there will be no projects and we also could not guarantee the quality of them. But that’s why we exist – to do part of the job for you who want to save the climate by offsetting emissions. Part of the cost also goes to the certification, to ensure the quality of the project. In this way we avoid projects that don’t make positive impacts, and protect ourselves from corruption and inefficiency.
We have now offset another 25,000 ton CO2eq in a Gold Standard certified project! Thank you for taking part in this!
This time, we are financing a new technology that we haven’t been involved with before – geothermal energy production! We are really excited to see that there are projects of this type available on the voluntary carbon credit market now, and we’ll tell you all about why this is so important.
This project is called Dora II, and it is a geothermal energy production plant in the Aydin province in Turkey. The plant has an installed capacity of 9.5 MWe with an annual electricity production of 70,000 MWh. Geothermal plants use the heat that is stored in the ground to produce electricity. The very short tech summary is that this project utilizes something called a Binary cycle system, where fluid obtained from a well that is dug into the ground transmits its temperature to another fluid (pentane, that has a lower evaporation degree), which powers a turbine that produces electricity.
Geothermal energy is a great way to complement other renewable energies, like wind and solar, because it offers a constant supply that is not dependent on the weather. It is therefore considered a baseload, or readily dispatchable power. It can take place at all hours and under almost any weather conditions, it is reliable, efficient, and the heat source itself is free.
However, only 6 to 7 percent of the world’s potential geothermal power has been tapped, according to Project Drawdown. There is still a lot to discover, but it is believed that some 7 to 13 percent of the current global energy consumption could be satisfied with geothermal energy. This makes it one of the top 20 solutions to climate change as listed by Project Drawdown. However, this will only be possible if we together assume the costs of early investment and developments. That is why we at GoClimate are so excited to be supporting this project!
GoClimateNeutral started out as a small side project with a big ambition, that took place as soon as the kids had fallen asleep, on weekends and holidays from regular jobs. Ideas saved as phone notes, lots of pitching to friends, and slowly putting the pieces together. Can we build a company offering a simple solution that makes a significant difference for the climate?
Three years later, the answer is clearly yes! We are currently 4500+ members, seven employees, and some 200+ companies on board who have together avoided the emission of 333,836 tonnes of CO2 – that’s so cool!
We are working hard to continuously improve the service, to make even more difference for the climate. As part of this, we have decided to change our name! We are dropping the “Neutral” to become GoClimate – a name we felt is more powerful and straightforward. Also because over time, we will need to do more than just become neutral – and our capacity to go beyond that is also growing.
This is the next step in our improvement process – we have already launched the updated version of the carbon footprint calculator, and we have more exciting things for you in the pipeline. All through, the service we provide remains the same – the monthly subscription is not changing, and the projects we invest in on your behalf are of the same star quality. We have expanded our work with companies and their offsetting, which gives a higher margin than what we charge from individual members. Thanks to that, we get more space to grow.
There are different ways to calculate the carbon footprint of an individual. If you have tried out more than one calculator, you have probably noticed that the questions differ and so do the results. The quick answer to this is that it depends on which data the calculator is based off, and what assumptions are made. For the GoClimate calculator, we have explained the rationale between the choice of underlying data and the calculations that we base the tool on in the Methodology, which can be accessed HERE
If there is anything in the methodology that you find questionable, please reach out to us! Let us know if you disagree, have a better source of data for something, or how we could improve. The calculator will change over time because emission factors are updated regularly, which means that your result can change in the future. It could also change if we find better data or an even better way to calculate. These adjustments are however most likely minimal, and the biggest change is what you do yourself!
We calculate Food with general values from a UK study, Flights are calculated with our own API, Car with emission factors provided by national sources (so that differs depending on where you are), and Housing are the most complex calculations based on national data on energy and electricity usage and national emission factors. To this, we add a national average for Personal consumption which is the clothes, furniture and other things you purchase, and a buffer for Public consumption which is infrastructure, hospitals, education etc.
Civil disobedience is something that is not very common in Sweden, and is associated with being rowdy and uncompromising. Many believe that we have a well-functioning society where it is the individual’s duty to follow the law and maintain order. Can that be true, while there are also reasons to not comply? If so, could the climate be such an issue? We at GoClimate believe that the climate crisis is so big that we need to explore all ways to act on it, and with this post we want to inform about one method already applied, both to create understanding of it and at the same time inspire one another to find new ways to get engaged that suits everyone.
Civil disobedience is defined as the citizen’s active refusal to comply with a law or an order from the government, in order to change society. It is a non-violent method to highlight that something in society is morally wrong, and therefore one does not agree to be involved in it. Resorting to civil disobedience as a method can be seen as a last resort, when the formal paths to drive change have not worked.
What can be important to bear in mind when considering whether civil disobedience is a good or bad method of social change, is that it is difficult to imagine a change before it has happened. What would the United States look like without slavery? How would England work if women were allowed to vote? Today, we generally agree that slavery is wrong and voting rights are a right regardless of gender, and using that reasoning we must also assume that in a hundred years’ time our grandchildren will be living in a society that has undergone even more changes. Moreover, the pace of change seems to be accelerating rather than slowing down, so it is reasonable to believe that we are not living in the most highly developed form of a human society yet.
What has civil disobedience actually accomplished historically? Perhaps the most well-known example is Mahatma Ghandi’s struggle for India’s independence from British colonial power, which included a long march in which he broke the salt law. Another person who today is praised for her courage is Rosa Parks, who refused to leave her seat on the bus in Montgomery to let a white passenger sit. Women’s suffrage is another example of what has been accomplished, however that struggle did involve violence. It can thus be individuals as well as groups and movements who perform civil disobedience, but neither Ghandi nor Parks acted alone.
In 2018, Greta Thunberg sat down outside the Swedish Parliament to strike for the climate. She thus violated the Swedish Education Act, arguing “why should we study for a future that is being taken away from us?”. Greta is perhaps a special case in civil disobedience because she does not violate the law that she believes is the problem, but does so to raise another issue. We at GoClimate are convinced that Greta’s morality is right, and that we as a society must change to live in accordance with it. The fact that Greta is a child who is not going to school has undeniably been a thorn in the side for many around the world. The fact that she has become the front person of Fridays For Future, where millions of children around the world follow her example and strike from school, is both proof of the reach that civil disobedience can achieve and the seriousness that today’s children and young people feel about the climate issue.
Within the environmental movement, Greenpeace and Extinction Rebellion are two organizations that use civil disobedience to call for attention and push environmental issues. Greenpeace’s actions often target large companies and directly block operators from engaging in environmentally harmful activities, while Extinction Rebellion’s actions have instead intended to cripple society and influence the masses by blocking bridges and roads. Both organizations are considered controversial, although many believe that their work highlights major problems that we have to handle.
How you choose to engage yourself in the climate issue is your own choice, and we at GoClimate hope that we can contribute to a transition to a sustainable society as quickly as possible. Committing civil disobedience is a method that has had a major impact historically on important issues, and it is already part of the environment and climate movement. Civil disobedience continues to be a relevant option because it is clear that systemic changes are not occurring at the pace necessary to secure a habitable planet in the not too distant future.
We have recently almost doubled the number of team members at GoClimate, with three new co-creators that allow us to proceed even faster and more efficiently towards our goal of creating a better tomorrow and a healthier planet.
Alexandra Palmquist is GoClimate’s climate advisor who came to us from the United Nations Development Programme in Bolivia, where she worked on climate and environmental projects. Previous positions include the European Commission in Belgium and the NGO We Effect, where Alexandra was stationed in Mozambique. Alexandra will work with measuring and reducing both individual and corporate climate impacts, and review of the climate projects we finance. Outside of work Alexandra recharges her energy by going running or dancing tango!
Tove Westling is the founder of the London-based PR agency VARG, which has worked with the establishment of brands such as Dagmar, DAY Birger et Mikkelsen, Filippa K, CDLP and Samsøe Samsøe on the British market. Tove has also been responsible for the agency’s focus on sustainability, and managed Vestiaire Collective’s PR in Scandinavia. With us, she works primarily with increasing climate commitment both locally in Scandinavia and globally. Beyond the climate issue, Tove’s heart is pounding for animal rights, above all with a commitment to stray dogs around the world.
Emma Bäckström is a trained civil engineer in media technology at KTH Royal Institute of Technology and has most recently worked as a developer at Mentimeter. At GoClimate, in addition to development, she also works with user experience and product development of our web service. In addition to saving the world, Emma wants to pet dogs and go running in the woods!
Besides the fact that we find it so exciting to have a living, growing team, we are extremely happy about what climate benefits this entails – as we can see that the number of co-creators is directly related to how much difference we make for the benefit of the climate. In 2017 we contributed to 660 avoided tonnes of CO2e per co-creator, in 2018 18, 000 avoided tonnes and in 2019 36,670 avoided tonnes per co-creator. We look forward to expanding the team further in 2020 and thus make even more positive difference!
GoClimate’s first customer survey was conducted in March 2019 and answered by more than 500 people who use the service on a regular basis. With so many positive responses, we feel super happy to have been able to create a service that enables both individuals and companies to climate offset their carbon footprint and contribute to stopping climate change together.
What’s your attitude towards your individual carbon footprint?
Almost 90% of the English survey’s respondents who climate offset through GoClimate are actively trying to lower their carbon footprints. A bit over 5% of the respondents do not actively try to reduce their carbon footprints and around 4% wants to reduce but do not know how – this is something we are working on to get better at!
How did you find out about GoClimate?
Nearly 30% of the respondents that carbon offset through GoClimate have come in contact with us through recommendations. To reach even more people and better save the climate, we truly hope that you will continue to discuss and share all possible climate actions with your friends and familiy!
Find more results from the English survey here and the Swedish survey here!