Yes, I do, in fact, just look at my exhaust pipe! My SUV’s exhaust, that is, or my 2002 ML-500 exahust, which at best gets 18mpg, and apparently spews over 350g/km of CO2. Over the course of a year, I’m spewing couple of times the weight of the car in CO2. So, yes, our cars are one of the biggest CO2 polluters, and CO2 is the leading cause of global warming. Why do I care?
Because at Wharton, we can make even mundane, intangible and socially responsible ideas into a good business that makes a profit and does something good. Yes, a class in operations called: Problem solving, design and system improvement, by Prof. Karl Ulrich, is precisely a business in reducing CO2. I’m not talking about your run-o-da-mill b-plan types or cases. This is a real business and I have a few shares in my name. What’s the idea? We help individuals offset the CO2 emissions from their cars by buying carbon dioxide credits on the markets and helping finance energy projects that use renewable sources or reduce CO2 emissions. Simple and yet brilliant. Take it from me, who’s not terribly environmentally conscious, to tell you that yes, a market-based mechanism can reduce CO2, help the environment and have a bigger impact than waiting months in line and paying a premium for a new hybrid vehicle.
Before I go off, you should check out Terrapass.com and if you are a car owner buy yourself a pass and then tell your friends: “My car is a zero emissions vehicle. Look how I did it!” For about $50 per year you can offset the annual carbon dioxide emissions of your car with Terrapass and get the certificate and recognition to prove it. Terrapass turns around and buys CO2 offsets from energy companies that are forced to use renewable sources or reduce actual CO2 emissions in a verifiable way, or we buy them from the carbon offsets market, such as what’s happening on the Chicago Climate Exchange. The beauty here is we don’t have to finance everything, just enough to make the alternative energy projects economically viable for power companies to reduce their CO2 emissions. Since this works worldwide, your car’s impact is offset immediately. Take that you hybrid-lovers! (this in jest, of course, I think hybrids are great and would love to see a sporty suv hybrid that I can afford now)