Offsetting Car and Air Travel – Another Step on the Path to Zero Carbon

CMZC is partnering with Carbonfund.org to offset the Center’s car and air travel by supporting a tropical reforestation project.

Baker Roshi and Zenki Roshi are making personal payments to the same program to make up for the carbon pollution caused by their teaching activity outside the Center and overseas.

 

Offsets in Numbers

CMZC obtained an offset certificate from Carbonfund.org for 30.1 metric tonnes of carbon pollution generated within 12 months. Between July 2017 and June 2018, CMZC’s total mileage generated from 3 cars was 20,057 resulting in 6.50 metric tons of carbon pollution. For the same time frame, Baker Roshi and Zenki Roshi will offset 5,858 miles (1.90 metric tons) for travel to and from other teaching locations. As a comparison, the average American logs 13,476 miles per year.

In addition, CMZC’s teachers will offset 47,994 air travel miles (21.76 metric tons) for four intercontinental flights. When it comes to travel, flying is the biggest polluter. The best we can do is to fly as little as possible and, when we do fly, offset our mileage and pay attention to certain aspects of flying that make a difference.

 

Why We Chose This Offset Program

Among the big third-party certified carbon offset providers, Carbonfund is the only non-profit organization. This means more of our donation arrive at the actual project. We chose the reforestation project both for its effectiveness in carbon sequestration and its additional benefits such as restoring critical habitat, enriching local biodiversity, improving soil quality, reducing erosion, and protecting downstream watersheds.

According to Paul Hawken’s research project “Drawdown,” restoration of tropical rainforests ranks as #5 among the 100 most effective ways to reverse climate change. #1-4 are refrigerant management, onshore wind power, reducing food waste, and a plant-rich diet. CMZC is either fully engaged in each of these top four carbon-reducing activities. Instead of wind power, we are planning a campus-wide fuel conversion to solar power.

Carbon offsets have a mixed reputation. Critics say they deepen the delusion that we don’t need to reduce our carbon footprint because we can pay for neutralizing it. CMZC is committed to continually investigate opportunities for carbon footprint reductions.

 

CMZC’s Path to Zero Carbon

In the next years, most of our financial resources will be directed toward converting all of our heating and domestic hot water systems to electrical and building an on-site photovoltaic solar array. After reducing these direct carbon emissions, our Zero Carbon commitment includes an examination and reduction of indirect emissions – those generated by the products and services we consume – and then offsetting the unavoidable residual footprint. Our goal also includes an eventual switch to electric cars that would be powered by our own solar array. In the meantime, we are beginning to acknowledge and offset our annual travel carbon footprint.

Since October 2017, we have been asking all of our students and guests to add a voluntary 3% Zero Carbon Fee to their lodging rate to help fund this transformation. In addition, we’ve invited you to support our effort through AmazonSmile. Your contributions have already made a difference in completing our recent energy efficiency initiative. Thank you to everyone who has been participating!

 

Join Us on this Path!

We are grateful to Matt Zepelin for doing the initial research and forming a relationship with Carbonfund.org and for making the kickstarting contribution. Thank you Matt for your enthusiasm and for getting us going!

If you are interested in co-creating a Zero Carbon future with and as the Dharma Sangha, we hope the activities at the Center inspire you to take climate action in your own corner of the world. And if you have action or funding ideas for us, please contact us. You can join CMZC’s initiatives by making a donation toward our current campaign or through volunteer work or research.