Most scientists agree that carbon emissions are contributing to the warming of the planet.
However, when it comes to devising a solution to the problem, it’s clear carbon can get people a little heated too. Detractors of Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard have called her “dumb” for pushing ahead with plans for a carbon tax, while others have slammed as “crazy” a plan for a carbon trading scheme for airlines flying to Europe. Yet many agree such schemes are our best chance of avoiding catastrophic climate change.
It is becoming clear that most of us will have to get used to curbs on our carbon emissions in the years and decades ahead, and that smarter firms will take steps to shrink their own carbon footprint sooner rather than later.
Dubai-headquartered Advanced Global Trading (AGT) made its own eye-catching move to take pole position in such efforts when, earlier this year, it announced it had been invited by the Lotus Formula One team to analyse its operations and help it become carbon neutral. The trading referred to in the company’s name is that of carbon credits – the name given to the permits which allow firms to offset their emissions.
The global system allows environmentally sound projects that reduce carbon emissions – such as wind farms – to apply for carbon credits. Within the Verified Carbon Standard (VCS) system, favoured by the likes of AGT, that credit is given a number and listed in a database. It can then be bought by companies or individuals looking to offset their own emissions. As well as easing their conscience, purchasers of such credits are increasingly doing so because they think there is money to be made by trading them at a later date – and given that all VCS credits stem from only about 750 green projects around the globe, it seems a likely that there is.
It was their expertise in this new field which saw the Lotus F1 team agree a three-year deal with AGT to help them cut their carbon.
“It’s not just for the race days, but for the logistics that goes with it – the transport, the flights and the team’s head office in the UK,” says AGT director Charles Stephenson.
Lotus is providing data to allow AGT to calculate its carbon emissions and suggest savings. It’s early days, but Stephenson says the firm has already identified the amount of electricity used by the team’s wind tunnel as a potential area of savings.
Stephenson says the publicity generated by the tie-up has already had benefits for the team – going green won’t do Lotus any harm with existing sponsors like Microsoft and Unilever, and may even attract some new backers, keen to associate with one of the more responsible members of what has long been considered a gas-guzzling pursuit.
“In the world now everything is green, everything is about sustainability, everything is going that way,” he says. Back here in the Middle East, firms are waking up to their responsibilities. AGT has worked with Dubai’s Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) and shared suggestions on how it could substantially cut its carbon footprint.
Even though this region has yet to announce the kind of limits on carbon emissions seen in Australia and Europe, Stephenson thinks it is only a matter of time before countries come up with their own carbon frameworks – with firms that have taken action before being obliged to likely to outpace their rivals.
With the high-profile United Nations climate conference COP18 being held in Qatar before the end of the year, he says simply: “It is right on their door step, and they can’t ignore it.”