Carbon Reduction Certificate

Organization Name:
Adirondack Council, Inc.
City & State:
Describe your creative piece – what is it and what has it been used for, and why is it innovative?
In December 2008, the Adirondack Council created its Cool Park/Healthy Planet Program, the first citizen-participation carbon-retirement program in the US, to prevent thousands of tons of carbon dioxide from being emitted by power plants. The public can permanently retire three tons of carbon dioxide for a donation of $25 keeping it out of the hands of power companies that would use it to create greenhouse gas pollution. A Carbon Reduction Certificate commemorates the retirement and proof of a good deed toward a healthier environment. The serial-numbered certificate is suitable for framing and can be made out to whomever the donor wishes. This program is different from the existing “carbon offset” programs, where the buyer is never sure whether the actions undertaken (tree-planting, etc.) have a measurable effect. The Program’s goal is to teach the public about climate change and to give individuals an affordable way to make a significant contribution to reducing carbon emissions.
What issue or problem were you working to address with this piece?
The Council works to reduce carbon dioxide emissions and help New York State’s six-million-acre Adirondack Park slow the progression of climate change, a threat to the ecological health of the world’s largest, intact deciduous forest and the greatest wilderness in the eastern U.S. The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) is the nation’s first government-mandated carbon dioxide control program. The Council played an active role in the development of the RGGI carbon trading program requiring power companies to purchase each year one allowance for every ton of carbon the plant releases. Annually, the number of allowances sold at auction is reduced, requiring the plants to reduce emissions. We could make the power companies clean up their emissions faster if we went to the auctions and bid for allowances. They tried to stop us by setting the minimum purchase at 1,000 allowances. So, we sought partners by asking the general public to purchase Carbon Reduction Certificates.
How has your submission successfully impacted your organization’s ability to solve this issue/problem?
Since the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative’s inaugural carbon auction in 2008, the Council has purchased 12,000 carbon allowances and permanently retired 8,000 tons of carbon through the Cool Park/Healthy Planet Program. The Council reinvested the money from sales of Carbon Reduction Certificates to purchase additional allowances. The reduction in the number of RGGI allowances issued will allow market forces to drive up the cost of polluting the air and compel power companies to seek more efficient and clean methods of creating electricity. The Program’s effects are real and measurable. Carbon Reduction Certificates have educated the public about the potential loss of fragile wildlife habitat resulting in the Adirondack Park from climate change. The public benefits as New York and other RGGI states have committed the auction revenue to promote clean energy and energy conservation. Media coverage has educated and involved the public in strategies to reduce carbon emissions.
Creative Submission - Files