by Worldchanging Denver local blogger, Lisa Smith:
Drive Neutral is a program for reducing emissions, and is run by the Presidio School of Management in concert with the Chicago Climate Exchange , or CCX. Businesses like New Belgium Brewing Company, Bayer, and Ford can sign up to voluntarily reduce their emissions, as can municipalities, universities, and even states. In Colorado both the City of Aspen and the City of Boulder have joined the Chicago Climate Exchange. Tufts University is also a participant, as is the state of New Mexico.
The exciting thing about CCX is that the contracts that entities sign are legally binding, and results are independently verified. A baseline level of emissions was calculated based on the period of 1998-2001. By December of 2006, that baseline had to be reduced by 4%, and it must be reduced by a total of 6% below baseline by 2010. But what's a company or city to do if it exceeds its goal, or, as some surely will, fails to reach it? Capitalism to the rescue: the lucky ones who have bypassed the necessary 6% can sell credits back to those who failed to meet their goals. And, of course, the ones who did not succeed can purchase them.
This is where Drive Neutral comes in – The Presidio School of Management contracts with CCX to purchase credits and retire them, thus increasing the cost for companies who fail to reduce emissions enough. Anyone armed with a bit of petty cash can wander on over to the website, enter the year, make, and model of their car, as well as annual miles driven, and presto! You get a price for offsetting the emissions of your car for the year. Presidio takes this money to CCX, and keeps buying credits and retiring them, thus increasing the cost of credits. Which, of course, makes the entities in CCX more interested in meeting their emissions goals in the first place and more inclined to exceed their goal so they can sell extra credits at a premium.
This is the really cool part for Colorado residents. The University of Colorado at Boulder's Environmental Center has launched Drive Neutral Colorado. By going to the local rather than the general site, between $2 and $5 of your emissions offset purchase goes "toward door-to-door distribution of compact fluorescent bulbs and other energy saving initiatives in low-income neighborhoods."
Fantastic. CU's Environmental Center is usually up to some pretty cool stuff.