The average American emits 17 tonnes of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere every year just by going about their daily life – breathing, blow-drying their hair, cooking, and so on. The figure is similar for Australians (16.5 tonnes) and not much better for Canadians (14.1 tonnes), and for most people, it is impossible to reduce this figure to zero. At the same time, many understand that we face an imperative to reduce our impact and help cool the planet. So what are we to do?
Enter Cool Effect, a nonprofit founded by Dee and Richard Lawrence, and its “Coollection” of projects. Cool Effect’s platform allows individuals to easily buy carbon credits and offset their personal emissions. Touted as a “first-of-its-kind, best-of-breed carbon-cutting solution to climate change,” the Coollection is a curated group of “the world’s best” carbon dioxide-reducing projects that are subject to an extensive review process before they can be included in the list and purchased.
“Our bar is high and the process is not easy for projects—we only support world-class projects that we can back 100%,” the founders explain on the website. “Even for an experienced climate person, wading through the more than 10,000 projects out there can be impossible. We’ve done the work to make it simple.”
Before Cool Effect will consider them, all projects must first be approved by third-party standard-keeping organizations such as the Gold Standard, Verified Carbon Standard, and Climate Action Reserve, among others. These standards organizations require projects to undergo verification, regular monitoring, site visits by scientifically qualified third parties, and substantial technical reviews. Then Cool Effect performs an additional deep analysis of both the science and the business structure of the projects to ensure they meet its standards and that the project will operate well into the future, including an assessment of whether donations are being used effectively.
Prices per tonne are set per project, and interested patrons are able to donate to the Coollection as a whole or to specific projects. Most credits cost under $13 per tonne, meaning the average American emitting 17 tonnes per year could pay approximately $200 or less to “remove” their negative impact on the planet. An impressive 90.13 percent of all financial support goes directly to the project(s) of choice, with Cool Effect charging just 9.87 percent in fees to cover transaction fees, research, and other fees, such as registry fees where applicable. (The organization’s overhead costs are covered by foundations.)
The projects are based in different countries around the world, and the Coollection is expected to continue to grow going forward. At the time of publishing, there were seven projects across Peru, Vietnam, Uganda, India and the United States, focused on clean cookstoves, biogas, and reducing deforestation, with prices ranging from $4.12 to $13.18 per tonne.
“People are concerned about the well being of our Earth, but it’s not always clear how we can make a difference,” Controller of Cool Effect Alissa van Leuven stated. “This platform makes it easy. We leave cooling to the experts, while putting the power to change in the hands of everybody else.”