I really love Catavino – it’s such an informative and innovative source of information on Spanish & Portuguese wines. The food of the region is key, but it’s just as vital to know about the great wines available too. This is the place to find out!
Jose Pizzaro http://www.josepizarro.com

Pancho Campo Poses a Question for Al Gore on Wine and Market Choices

After Gore’s speech, the keynote speaker at the II International Conference on Climate and Wine in Barcelona was allotted a certain amount of time dedicated to questions and answers. One question fielded by Pancho Campo and asked of Al Gore was, “what is the responsibility of the wine industry in relation to the climate crisis?”

After I had watched this clip for the umpteenth time, it dawned me that his passionate speech about brand loyalty as it relates to trust is really no different than what makes a blog successful. Trust is the key to any successful relationship and the foundation for future growth. It is because of trust that you choose to read and interact with us. It is because of trust that we come to many of you for advice and clarity. Without this trust, without this dynamic relationship, you would not share our site with your friends, nor would they with theirs. I say this because web 2.0 is the new marketplace, where friends tell friends about products they adore, sites they appreciate and companies they respect. I love this clip by Gore because it not only enforces a long held belief Ryan and I have lived by for years, but it give it a tangibility that it didn’t have before. Wineries who place conservation as a priority and the life of their consumers as a focal point is a winery that will have a better chance of succeeding in the future. Interesting thought, is it not?!

Video content from the conference was produced by Richard Gillespie please contact us if you are interested in hiring Richard for your next project.

  • RichardA

    Call me skeptical. Must be the lawyer in me. But I think Gore is missing the mark here. Brand loyalty is important but I don't think that wineries utilizing conservation measures will automatically gain such just for claiming to help the environment. Is there any evidence that wineries that utilize conservation measures do better financially than wineries that do not? And is there a proven link that it is those specific conservation measures that are reasonable for their financial success? If you had a choice, which would you choose, price being equal? A quality wine from a winery that does not utilize conservation measures, or a lesser quality wine from a winery that does utilize conservation measures? Then try this choice: Two wines of equal quality, one using conservation measures and one that does not, but the one using conservation measures costs $5 more? $10 more? $20 more? Now, how would the average wine consumer answer those questions? I think quality and price are paramount factors to most wine consumers over whether a winery utilizes conservation measures or not. Those two factors have far more to do with brand loyalty than conservation measures. Sure, there will be a segment of consumers that will buy green, but they will be far outweighed by those who do not. Those wineries who utilize conservation measures cannot rely on that alone to sell their wines. They cannot forget the priority of quality and price.

  • http://www.passionatefoodie.blogspot.com RichardA

    Call me skeptical. Must be the lawyer in me. But I think Gore is missing the mark here. Brand loyalty is important but I don’t think that wineries utilizing conservation measures will automatically gain such just for claiming to help the environment.

    Is there any evidence that wineries that utilize conservation measures do better financially than wineries that do not? And is there a proven link that it is those specific conservation measures that are reasonable for their financial success?

    If you had a choice, which would you choose, price being equal? A quality wine from a winery that does not utilize conservation measures, or a lesser quality wine from a winery that does utilize conservation measures?

    Then try this choice: Two wines of equal quality, one using conservation measures and one that does not, but the one using conservation measures costs $5 more? $10 more? $20 more?

    Now, how would the average wine consumer answer those questions?

    I think quality and price are paramount factors to most wine consumers over whether a winery utilizes conservation measures or not. Those two factors have far more to do with brand loyalty than conservation measures. Sure, there will be a segment of consumers that will buy green, but they will be far outweighed by those who do not. Those wineries who utilize conservation measures cannot rely on that alone to sell their wines. They cannot forget the priority of quality and price.

  • Gabriella Opaz

    Richard, You always ask fabulous questions. Thanks, as usual, for keeping us on our toes. Here are my thoughts: "Is there any evidence that wineries that utilize conservation measures do better financially than wineries that do not? And is there a proven link that it is those specific conservation measures that are reasonable for their financial success?" To answer your first two questions, I think we need to put this argument in perspective. In February 2008, the world's population is believed to have reached over 6.65 billon. The world's population, on its current growth trajectory, is expected to reach nearly 9 billion by the year 2050. That's a big number! And alongside population comes the consumption of resources, which may not be a big deal if they were distributed fairly, but as we all know, they're not, nor do I suspect they ever will be. So, lots of people, food allocated to the few privileged and now let's jack of the temperature by a few degrees. What happens? Less diversity of food, people most likely will move a farther inland, less land to farm on, etc. etc. You get my drift. My point is, is that the green movement is already starting. None of us want the planet to increase in temperature, but it's happening. None of want to be crammed even tighter than we already feel in the city, but we will be tighter. And none of us want to suffer from water shortages, but we're already feeling it in Spain. So yes, I do think that wineries will gain profit for two reasons: 1. they will save money by using alternative energy sources, as your mainstream sources become more expensive, equally they will gain money in conserving water as water prices will soon see a hefty hike 2. you may see wineries who are using conservation adaptation measures selling wine for cheaper than those who are not. Why? Because they won't be scrambling when the they find themselves with sunburnt grapes, water and heating bills through the roof and poor vintages year after year. "If you had a choice, which would you choose, price being equal? A quality wine from a winery that does not utilize conservation measures, or a lesser quality wine from a winery that does utilize conservation measures? These are good questions, and ones we will all be suffering with together. I'd like to say that I will only go green, but that's a lie. So instead, I will say that I most likely will choose green when push comes to shove. What I will say, however, is that I believe the more bloggers and mainstream media support green measures, the more trendy it will be to market yourself as a green winery. Hopefully, together we can make a difference in this area.

  • http://www.catavino.net Gabriella Opaz

    Richard,

    You always ask fabulous questions. Thanks, as usual, for keeping us on our toes. Here are my thoughts:

    “Is there any evidence that wineries that utilize conservation measures do better financially than wineries that do not? And is there a proven link that it is those specific conservation measures that are reasonable for their financial success?”

    To answer your first two questions, I think we need to put this argument in perspective. In February 2008, the world’s population is believed to have reached over 6.65 billon. The world’s population, on its current growth trajectory, is expected to reach nearly 9 billion by the year 2050. That’s a big number! And alongside population comes the consumption of resources, which may not be a big deal if they were distributed fairly, but as we all know, they’re not, nor do I suspect they ever will be. So, lots of people, food allocated to the few privileged and now let’s jack of the temperature by a few degrees. What happens? Less diversity of food, people most likely will move a farther inland, less land to farm on, etc. etc. You get my drift.

    My point is, is that the green movement is already starting. None of us want the planet to increase in temperature, but it’s happening. None of want to be crammed even tighter than we already feel in the city, but we will be tighter. And none of us want to suffer from water shortages, but we’re already feeling it in Spain. So yes, I do think that wineries will gain profit for two reasons: 1. they will save money by using alternative energy sources, as your mainstream sources become more expensive, equally they will gain money in conserving water as water prices will soon see a hefty hike 2. you may see wineries who are using conservation adaptation measures selling wine for cheaper than those who are not. Why? Because they won’t be scrambling when the they find themselves with sunburnt grapes, water and heating bills through the roof and poor vintages year after year.

    “If you had a choice, which would you choose, price being equal? A quality wine from a winery that does not utilize conservation measures, or a lesser quality wine from a winery that does utilize conservation measures?

    These are good questions, and ones we will all be suffering with together. I’d like to say that I will only go green, but that’s a lie. So instead, I will say that I most likely will choose green when push comes to shove. What I will say, however, is that I believe the more bloggers and mainstream media support green measures, the more trendy it will be to market yourself as a green winery. Hopefully, together we can make a difference in this area.

  • RichardA

    Hi Gabriella: There have been some good discussions here lately and we all benefit from such. I think that if these wineries are to gain any profit from conservation measures, it would have to be long term. From everything I have read, implementing all of the necessary conservation measures is initially a significant expense. It won't be until years later that the winery might then start seeing an overall savings. And who will pay for those significant initial expenses? Probably the consumer though higher wine prices. Just go to the grocery store and you can see how most "green" products seem to come at a higher price than regular ones. Why would the wine industry be any different? If they invest millions in conservation measures, it seems only natural they will try to pass the cost on to the consumer. Especially the smaller wineries who cannot afford to take on such expenses easily. And if "green" wines are more expensive, then it will be a harder sell. Being honest, the price of wine is very relevant to all of us. Another issue I see, related to the last points you raised, is what constitutes a "green" winery? How many conservation measures must they undertake to be considered fully green? Can you be partially green and if so, do they deserve our support as much as a fully green winery? Or by supporting partially green wineries, does that send a signal that a winery does not have to be fully green to get our support? How little green does a winery have to be to gain our support? Thanks

  • Gabriella

    You are absolutely correct in that it will take a little time to see the positive gain from your conservation measures, but the end justifies the means. Let me explain. Part of my issue with our global mentality right now, is that we think in sound bites. We look at the present, and the short-term future, and say, "boy, those costs, although feasible for us, are just not worth it over the next five years!" What bothers me about this, is that we're not using our creativity as a regional, national or global community to find a way to make this choice doable and attractive. We're not looking that the consequence of our actions now on our grandchildren in the future. Why? I think, because we're a fast food global culture, only focused on what we can obtain quickly and conveniently. Sadly, this attitude of consumption at any cost is what has got us in this mess in the first place. As for the consumer picking up the bill, check out Jill's blog at Domain547 where she's asking people to support her Terrapass initiative. It looks to me that everyone seems pretty content to fork over a few dollars to support a fabulous idea than spending it on their Starbucks coffee. Finally, you are absolutely correct that we are in a quandary as to what constitutes a "green"winery. Ryan and I are in the midsts of figuring out what this means ourselves so that we can create a conservation project of our own here in Spain. If you have ideas, or an outline, let us know! Or maybe, it deserves its own facebook page ;-)

  • RichardA

    I certainly agree with you that the long term effects would be positive for our entire world. And I agree as well concerning some of the mentality that has led us to this point. It will be difficult to make such measures attractive, especially due to monetary costs that many may not want to take on. But it is definitely something to discuss and consider. I have seen Jill's new carbon offset with Terrapass. I certainly have nothing against Jill, and I have ordered wine from her and will do so again, but I am a bit skeptical (nothing new there) about carbon offsets in general. First, there is the well worn analogy to carbon offsets and medieval indulgences. Pollute as much as you want and just pay some money for a carbon offset and you don't have to feel guilty about all the polluting you do. Drive the biggest gas guzzler you want, and no worries. $10 a month assuages your guilt. Carbon offsets can lead to such a mentality. Why conserve when you can just buy away your problems? Second, there are companies who sell carbon offsets who don't follow through. Though there is the start of some independent monitoring companies, to ensure you get what you pay for, one has to be very careful which company you use. Third, you are really never carbon neutral as everything is an estimate anyways. They estimate what your carbon footprint is for certain activities. That estimate will vary dependent on which company you consult. Which estimate is best though? And your actual carbon footprint could be higher than the estimate so any offset may not truly offset your actual footprint. Fourth, what methods of carbon offset are being used? Not all are the same and some methods are more controversial than others as to their actual effect. For example, a number of issues have been raised about tree planting as a method. Fifth, how much of the cost of carbon offsets actually goes to the offsets and how much is profit and admin costs for the company selling the offsets? When a for profit company is selling offsets, you know they will likely be charging as much as they can to maximize profits. Sixth, would the money you pay for offsets be better used for other conservation measures? Mmmm…and on the green winery issue, maybe that might be an issue for discussion for the new OpenWine Consortium. I certainly don't have any answers right now. But it is a worthy topic for continued research and discussion.

  • Jill

    Hi Richard, Hi Gabriella, Hi Ryan, I will need to take some time to fully respond to the points that are being raised here, and will try to do so sometime in the next day or so. In the meantime, I want to point out that my business is to ship wine. I can't do much about my business model, since I'm a mail order house, more or less (whether I'm delivering locally or farther afield). And wine, inherently, is a product with a carbon footprint to begin with. We can all try to be local-vores as much as we'd like, but I don't suspect Richard would be that happy just drinking fruit wines from the cranberry bogs of Cape Cod, or Concord Grape concoctions native to New England. So even if Richard is buying wine from the local store, if it comes from California or Spain, there is an environmental impact to this form of consumption. What I am aiming to do with the TerraPass program is not just to assuage people's guilt, but to acknowledge that wine consumption has an impact on the environment. I hope to get people to take note of this, and to hopefully do something about it (what they can do at this point is limited: either stop drinking anything but local products, take part in a carbon offset program, buy from wineries with sustainable practices, to name a few of the non-abundant options available). I did lots of research on carbon offsets before deciding what company to go with, and very reputable sources gave the thumbs up to TerraPass. Yes, the system is not perfect. Yes, this is possibly just a band-aid rather than a long-term solution. But should I do nothing and just say that any damage done is miniscule (given the small scale nature of my business) and a cost of doing business, or should I take some responsibility, even if the results will be equally miniscule? I'd prefer the latter.

  • http://www.passionatefoodie.blogspot.com RichardA

    Hi Gabriella:
    There have been some good discussions here lately and we all benefit from such.

    I think that if these wineries are to gain any profit from conservation measures, it would have to be long term. From everything I have read, implementing all of the necessary conservation measures is initially a significant expense. It won’t be until years later that the winery might then start seeing an overall savings. And who will pay for those significant initial expenses? Probably the consumer though higher wine prices.

    Just go to the grocery store and you can see how most “green” products seem to come at a higher price than regular ones. Why would the wine industry be any different? If they invest millions in conservation measures, it seems only natural they will try to pass the cost on to the consumer. Especially the smaller wineries who cannot afford to take on such expenses easily. And if “green” wines are more expensive, then it will be a harder sell. Being honest, the price of wine is very relevant to all of us.

    Another issue I see, related to the last points you raised, is what constitutes a “green” winery? How many conservation measures must they undertake to be considered fully green? Can you be partially green and if so, do they deserve our support as much as a fully green winery? Or by supporting partially green wineries, does that send a signal that a winery does not have to be fully green to get our support? How little green does a winery have to be to gain our support?

    Thanks

  • http://www.catavino.net Gabriella

    You are absolutely correct in that it will take a little time to see the positive gain from your conservation measures, but the end justifies the means. Let me explain. Part of my issue with our global mentality right now, is that we think in sound bites. We look at the present, and the short-term future, and say, “boy, those costs, although feasible for us, are just not worth it over the next five years!” What bothers me about this, is that we’re not using our creativity as a regional, national or global community to find a way to make this choice doable and attractive. We’re not looking that the consequence of our actions now on our grandchildren in the future. Why? I think, because we’re a fast food global culture, only focused on what we can obtain quickly and conveniently. Sadly, this attitude of consumption at any cost is what has got us in this mess in the first place.

    As for the consumer picking up the bill, check out Jill’s blog at Domain547 where she’s asking people to support her Terrapass initiative. It looks to me that everyone seems pretty content to fork over a few dollars to support a fabulous idea than spending it on their Starbucks coffee.

    Finally, you are absolutely correct that we are in a quandary as to what constitutes a “green”winery. Ryan and I are in the midsts of figuring out what this means ourselves so that we can create a conservation project of our own here in Spain. If you have ideas, or an outline, let us know! Or maybe, it deserves its own facebook page ;-)

  • RichardA

    Hi Jill: You are correct that I certainly would not be happy as a local-vore. I want to drink wines from all over the world and that means there will be an environmental impact to my decision. You know I will order a case of the Pleaides XVI from you, with all the consequent environmental impact. And probably the biggest environmental aspect of wine is its shipping. I do applaud people, including yourself, who are doing something "green," who are taking some responsibility. My comments on carbon offsets were intended to be general and not specific to your plans. and I am glad to see you do your research on the subject. I am only aware of one major article, in Business Week, that raised any negative issues about Terrapass. And Terrapass did address those issues. But not all carbon offsets are equal so anyone considering such should do their research. I do think we need to carefully consider all "green" solutions, especially where for-profit companies are involved. Carbon offsets can help the situation. We just should not feel they are a complete solution, and thus ignore other ways we can be green. And it is obvious Jill that you have thought about those issues. Richard

  • http://www.passionatefoodie.blogspot.com RichardA

    I certainly agree with you that the long term effects would be positive for our entire world. And I agree as well concerning some of the mentality that has led us to this point. It will be difficult to make such measures attractive, especially due to monetary costs that many may not want to take on. But it is definitely something to discuss and consider.

    I have seen Jill’s new carbon offset with Terrapass. I certainly have nothing against Jill, and I have ordered wine from her and will do so again, but I am a bit skeptical (nothing new there) about carbon offsets in general.

    First, there is the well worn analogy to carbon offsets and medieval indulgences. Pollute as much as you want and just pay some money for a carbon offset and you don’t have to feel guilty about all the polluting you do. Drive the biggest gas guzzler you want, and no worries. $10 a month assuages your guilt. Carbon offsets can lead to such a mentality. Why conserve when you can just buy away your problems?

    Second, there are companies who sell carbon offsets who don’t follow through. Though there is the start of some independent monitoring companies, to ensure you get what you pay for, one has to be very careful which company you use.

    Third, you are really never carbon neutral as everything is an estimate anyways. They estimate what your carbon footprint is for certain activities. That estimate will vary dependent on which company you consult. Which estimate is best though? And your actual carbon footprint could be higher than the estimate so any offset may not truly offset your actual footprint.

    Fourth, what methods of carbon offset are being used? Not all are the same and some methods are more controversial than others as to their actual effect. For example, a number of issues have been raised about tree planting as a method.

    Fifth, how much of the cost of carbon offsets actually goes to the offsets and how much is profit and admin costs for the company selling the offsets? When a for profit company is selling offsets, you know they will likely be charging as much as they can to maximize profits.

    Sixth, would the money you pay for offsets be better used for other conservation measures?

    Mmmm…and on the green winery issue, maybe that might be an issue for discussion for the new OpenWine Consortium. I certainly don’t have any answers right now. But it is a worthy topic for continued research and discussion.

  • Adam Stein

    Hi, I'm Adam Stein, one of the founders of TerraPass. Gabriella asked me chime in on some of the points raised above, so here are a few thoughts: First, there is the well worn analogy to carbon offsets and medieval indulgences. Pollute as much as you want and just pay some money for a carbon offset and you don’t have to feel guilty about all the polluting you do. Drive the biggest gas guzzler you want, and no worries. $10 a month assuages your guilt. Carbon offsets can lead to such a mentality. Why conserve when you can just buy away your problems?Yeah, this has pretty much been beaten to death. It's a lazy criticism. In real life, people don't do this. Happy to consider any evidence to the contrary, but no one has ever produced any. Second, there are companies who sell carbon offsets who don’t follow through. Though there is the start of some independent monitoring companies, to ensure you get what you pay for, one has to be very careful which company you use.This is true, which is why TerraPass is independently audited and publishes a verification report on our web site. As with all purchases, you do have to do you research. Third, you are really never carbon neutral as everything is an estimate anyways. They estimate what your carbon footprint is for certain activities. That estimate will vary dependent on which company you consult. Which estimate is best though? And your actual carbon footprint could be higher than the estimate so any offset may not truly offset your actual footprint.This seems like an odd nitpick. People who purchase carbon offsets are aware that their purchase may not exactly match their true carbon footprint. But they're still happy to be able to take action on climate change, both through offsetting and through conservation measures. Fourth, what methods of carbon offset are being used? Not all are the same and some methods are more controversial than others as to their actual effect. For example, a number of issues have been raised about tree planting as a method.TerraPass doesn't support tree-planting projects, due to quality concerns. We spend an enormous amount of time, effort, and money doing project-level verification to make sure our offsets are high quality. Fifth, how much of the cost of carbon offsets actually goes to the offsets and how much is profit and admin costs for the company selling the offsets? When a for profit company is selling offsets, you know they will likely be charging as much as they can to maximize profits.Nope, this is not true. The carbon offset industry is highly competitive — there are something like 60 offset retailers out there — which means there is an enormous amount of downward price pressure. Offset retailers charge as low a price as they can. This is how all commodity markets work. Sixth, would the money you pay for offsets be better used for other conservation measures?This is a value judgment that individuals will have to make. Usually, though, these types of questions imply tradeoffs that don't exist. "Should we really be spending money on saving panda bears when there are children starving in Africa?" More often than not, it's a false choice. But of course, I encourage people to put their money to whichever worthy causes they feel most passionate about. —– And to Jill — it sounds like you're coming at this the right way. Carbon offsets aren't really either a band aid or (by themselves) a long-term solution. They're hopefully an accelerant to some of the long-term solutions that need to be put into place. Solutions such as national carbon legislation, investment in clean energy infrastructure, etc. Climate change is a very big problem, and we just need to chip away at it through every means at our disposal. Thanks for your support.

  • Adam Stein

    Whoops, posting one follow-up comment so I can register for email updates…

  • http://domaine547.com Jill

    Hi Richard, Hi Gabriella, Hi Ryan,

    I will need to take some time to fully respond to the points that are being raised here, and will try to do so sometime in the next day or so.

    In the meantime, I want to point out that my business is to ship wine. I can’t do much about my business model, since I’m a mail order house, more or less (whether I’m delivering locally or farther afield). And wine, inherently, is a product with a carbon footprint to begin with.

    We can all try to be local-vores as much as we’d like, but I don’t suspect Richard would be that happy just drinking fruit wines from the cranberry bogs of Cape Cod, or Concord Grape concoctions native to New England. So even if Richard is buying wine from the local store, if it comes from California or Spain, there is an environmental impact to this form of consumption.

    What I am aiming to do with the TerraPass program is not just to assuage people’s guilt, but to acknowledge that wine consumption has an impact on the environment. I hope to get people to take note of this, and to hopefully do something about it (what they can do at this point is limited: either stop drinking anything but local products, take part in a carbon offset program, buy from wineries with sustainable practices, to name a few of the non-abundant options available).

    I did lots of research on carbon offsets before deciding what company to go with, and very reputable sources gave the thumbs up to TerraPass. Yes, the system is not perfect. Yes, this is possibly just a band-aid rather than a long-term solution. But should I do nothing and just say that any damage done is miniscule (given the small scale nature of my business) and a cost of doing business, or should I take some responsibility, even if the results will be equally miniscule?

    I’d prefer the latter.

  • http://passionatefoodie.blogspot.com/ RichardA

    Hi Jill:
    You are correct that I certainly would not be happy as a local-vore. I want to drink wines from all over the world and that means there will be an environmental impact to my decision. You know I will order a case of the Pleaides XVI from you, with all the consequent environmental impact. And probably the biggest environmental aspect of wine is its shipping.

    I do applaud people, including yourself, who are doing something “green,” who are taking some responsibility. My comments on carbon offsets were intended to be general and not specific to your plans. and I am glad to see you do your research on the subject. I am only aware of one major article, in Business Week, that raised any negative issues about Terrapass. And Terrapass did address those issues. But not all carbon offsets are equal so anyone considering such should do their research. I do think we need to carefully consider all “green” solutions, especially where for-profit companies are involved.

    Carbon offsets can help the situation. We just should not feel they are a complete solution, and thus ignore other ways we can be green. And it is obvious Jill that you have thought about those issues.

    Richard

  • http://www.terrapass.com/blog Adam Stein

    Hi,

    I’m Adam Stein, one of the founders of TerraPass. Gabriella asked me chime in on some of the points raised above, so here are a few thoughts:

    First, there is the well worn analogy to carbon offsets and medieval indulgences. Pollute as much as you want and just pay some money for a carbon offset and you don’t have to feel guilty about all the polluting you do. Drive the biggest gas guzzler you want, and no worries. $10 a month assuages your guilt. Carbon offsets can lead to such a mentality. Why conserve when you can just buy away your problems?

    Yeah, this has pretty much been beaten to death. It’s a lazy criticism. In real life, people don’t do this. Happy to consider any evidence to the contrary, but no one has ever produced any.

    Second, there are companies who sell carbon offsets who don’t follow through. Though there is the start of some independent monitoring companies, to ensure you get what you pay for, one has to be very careful which company you use.

    This is true, which is why TerraPass is independently audited and publishes a verification report on our web site. As with all purchases, you do have to do you research.

    Third, you are really never carbon neutral as everything is an estimate anyways. They estimate what your carbon footprint is for certain activities. That estimate will vary dependent on which company you consult. Which estimate is best though? And your actual carbon footprint could be higher than the estimate so any offset may not truly offset your actual footprint.

    This seems like an odd nitpick. People who purchase carbon offsets are aware that their purchase may not exactly match their true carbon footprint. But they’re still happy to be able to take action on climate change, both through offsetting and through conservation measures.

    Fourth, what methods of carbon offset are being used? Not all are the same and some methods are more controversial than others as to their actual effect. For example, a number of issues have been raised about tree planting as a method.

    TerraPass doesn’t support tree-planting projects, due to quality concerns. We spend an enormous amount of time, effort, and money doing project-level verification to make sure our offsets are high quality.

    Fifth, how much of the cost of carbon offsets actually goes to the offsets and how much is profit and admin costs for the company selling the offsets? When a for profit company is selling offsets, you know they will likely be charging as much as they can to maximize profits.

    Nope, this is not true. The carbon offset industry is highly competitive — there are something like 60 offset retailers out there — which means there is an enormous amount of downward price pressure. Offset retailers charge as low a price as they can. This is how all commodity markets work.

    Sixth, would the money you pay for offsets be better used for other conservation measures?

    This is a value judgment that individuals will have to make. Usually, though, these types of questions imply tradeoffs that don’t exist. “Should we really be spending money on saving panda bears when there are children starving in Africa?” More often than not, it’s a false choice. But of course, I encourage people to put their money to whichever worthy causes they feel most passionate about.

    —–

    And to Jill — it sounds like you’re coming at this the right way. Carbon offsets aren’t really either a band aid or (by themselves) a long-term solution. They’re hopefully an accelerant to some of the long-term solutions that need to be put into place. Solutions such as national carbon legislation, investment in clean energy infrastructure, etc. Climate change is a very big problem, and we just need to chip away at it through every means at our disposal. Thanks for your support.

  • http://www.terrapass.com/blog Adam Stein

    Whoops, posting one follow-up comment so I can register for email updates…

  • Ryan

    Adam, I would like to hear more! Thanks for chiming in and I really appreciate your perspective. With a global warming onset, I really want to better understand offsets…is the goal to be neutral? Or is there a goal above this to reduce? From all we heard at the conference and the need to reclaim CO2 from the air, I wonder if there are people attempting to go beyond the offset? Can you be carbon-negative? cheers,

  • http://www.obiscoito.com Ryan

    Adam, I would like to hear more! Thanks for chiming in and I really appreciate your perspective. With a global warming onset, I really want to better understand offsets…is the goal to be neutral? Or is there a goal above this to reduce? From all we heard at the conference and the need to reclaim CO2 from the air, I wonder if there are people attempting to go beyond the offset? Can you be carbon-negative?

    cheers,

  • Adam Stein

    Hi Ryan, Good question, tough to answer in a really simple way. With climate change, you have to really consider the short term and the long term separately. In the long term, the only viable solutions to climate change are systemic. We need 80% cuts in emissions, and we simultaneously need to ensure that the developing world follows a different path to prosperity than we did. These are big challenges that can't really be addressed through individual efforts. So in this regard, the single most important thing you can do is vote or otherwise try to influence your legislators. In the short term, though, we need to stop pouring money into long-lived infrastructure that is further contributing to the problem. Some of that infrastructure is things like are cars (which typically take 10 years to turn over) or new coal-fired power plants (which can last for 75 years or longer). Personal measures like offsets and conservation can help to relieve those short-term pressures while longer term investments are being made. There really is no "right" amount to offset. Most people seek to match their own emissions, but this is really just a symbolic level. You could choose to buy more or fewer offsets, as budget or desire allows. Hope this helps, Adam

  • RichardA

    Adam: With Terrapass, what percentage of the cost of carbon offsets actually goes to the offsets and what percentage is profit/expenses/admin costs? Thanks, Richard

  • http://www.terrapass.com/blog Adam Stein

    Hi Ryan,

    Good question, tough to answer in a really simple way. With climate change, you have to really consider the short term and the long term separately.

    In the long term, the only viable solutions to climate change are systemic. We need 80% cuts in emissions, and we simultaneously need to ensure that the developing world follows a different path to prosperity than we did. These are big challenges that can’t really be addressed through individual efforts. So in this regard, the single most important thing you can do is vote or otherwise try to influence your legislators.

    In the short term, though, we need to stop pouring money into long-lived infrastructure that is further contributing to the problem. Some of that infrastructure is things like are cars (which typically take 10 years to turn over) or new coal-fired power plants (which can last for 75 years or longer). Personal measures like offsets and conservation can help to relieve those short-term pressures while longer term investments are being made.

    There really is no “right” amount to offset. Most people seek to match their own emissions, but this is really just a symbolic level. You could choose to buy more or fewer offsets, as budget or desire allows.

    Hope this helps,

    Adam

  • http://www.passionatefoodie.blogspot.com RichardA

    Adam:
    With Terrapass, what percentage of the cost of carbon offsets actually goes to the offsets and what percentage is profit/expenses/admin costs?

    Thanks,
    Richard