by Chicory Wealth Financial Advisor Dan Kirslis, CFP®
The screen you’re using to read this article is most likely powered by the burning of fossil fuels. The combustion of those fuels adds greenhouse gases to our atmosphere, slowly heating the planet. If this process continues unabated, it will eventually have dramatically disruptive effects on agriculture, economic activity, and daily life, increasing the frequency of mass displacement, famine, and war. Already, the effects of this warming are being seen in the form of increased frequency of extreme weather events and reduced agricultural yields. Climate change is happening now.
So, what are we going to do about it?
There are many things that will need to be achieved to limit the damage of climate change, but one of the most important things we can do now is reduce our emissions of greenhouse gases. Doing so at the scale required to put a dent into the problem will require leadership across the board: from individuals and civic organizations to regional, national, and international governing bodies. In order to do our part, Chicory Wealth, in response to a challenge from the B-Corp community, has committed to being entirely carbon neutral.
The first step was calculating our carbon footprint. To do so, we looked back at our energy consumption since Chicory Wealth became an entity in 2018. There are three major categories where we consume carbon: electricity use, travel, and carbon emissions embedded in purchased products. In the relatively intangible financial industry, the first two categories constitute the vast majority of carbon consumption. Once we had tallied up the tons of released carbon dioxide tied to our activity, we needed to find a way to offset that quantity.
To do so, we contributed to a new solar project by Clearloop, an organization that builds renewable energy generating stations. Clearloop looks for the “dirtiest” power plants — usually those burning coal, which generates more carbon dioxide per unit of energy than any other commonly used fuels for generating electricity — and replaces some of their electricity generation by building solar fields. Every kilowatt hour that their solar field provides prevents a given quantity of coal from being burned and thus a certain amount of carbon dioxide from being burned. After accounting for the carbon emitted in the production of the solar panels and the construction of the site, ClearLoop is able to sell the remaining amount of carbon that is prevented from being burned as “offsets.” The proceeds from these sales fund the project itself. Clearloop also looks to target areas where they can have other positive social impacts. They seek to create good solar jobs in areas that are economically struggling. They even hire out sheep to graze the grass in their fields rather than using polluting diesel lawn equipment!
The central part of their mission, though, is building the market for high integrity carbon credits. Carbon offset markets will be critical for our economies to internalize the environmental costs of operation, which will be key to mitigating our environmental impact and funding the transition to greener energy sources. To affect the carbon cycle on the scale necessary, the voluntary and scattershot carbon offset arrangements of today will need to evolve into regulated and standardized mechanisms, so projects like this one should be understood as early but critical steps. Chicory Wealth is proud to continue our participation in the grand and urgent project of bringing economic activity in line with environmental boundaries.
The prospect of climate change can often be overwhelming. The scale of the problem is so vast compared to our individual control, which makes it easy to despair or retreat into cynicism. It is important not to give into catastrophism: there will still be a world in 2030, 2100, and beyond, and humans and other creatures will still be living in it. Some damage is too late to undo, but there is a lot of damage that can still be avoided. Let us commence building the systems now that will achieve that, so our descendants may live in a world that restores rather than degrades nature.
You can watch a short video about Clearloop’s latest project in the Mississippi Delta by clicking HERE.