I recently received a press release from a company called My Emissions Exchange. I get lots of press releases – mostly about ethical shampoo and that sort of thing – but this one caught my eye.
‘MyEEX’ (no relation to German energy exchange EEX I assume) sells carbon offsets. The ‘projects’ behind the carbon offsets are individuals who reduce their home energy bills. You can sign up to MyEEX, enter your baseline bill, reduce your energy use, enter your new bill and MyEEX will create carbon credits that represent the reductions. They will then sell the credits on voluntary offset market – not sure who to – and return some proportion of the money to the individual.
For those of you familiar with the concept of additionality, alarm bells will be ringing. How do we know the baseline bill is not unusually high? How do we know the individual would not have reduced their energy use anyway (making the carbon offsets irrelevant)? Why do people need to be paid to reduce their bills? Who are the buyers anyway?
When I saw this I assumed it was an enterprising but poorly conceived project that probably wouldn’t get that far, but today I spotted a very promotional article in The Times!
“People really want to make a difference by cutting down their carbon emissions, but at the moment it’s all very woolly and they’re not seeing anything concrete from their efforts,” said Paul Herrgesell, the company’s project manager.
“This will let people actively track their energy usage and make money at the same time, both of which will motivate people and make them more aware of their carbon emissions.”
Herrgesell said the firm is hoping to expand the website to measure all types of personal carbon emissions, but is using households bills as a starting point.
“Our vision is to cover personal carbon footprints produced by car and air travel, and even, eventually, food and services,” said Herrgesell.