Thinking Globally, Acting Locally

by Richard T. Stuebi

“Think Globally, Act Locally” has long been one of the most widely-used slogans in the sustainability movement. But in a highly-interlinked global economy, it’s not always so easy to do.

Here in Cleveland, a number of major institutions — including the City of Cleveland, the Cleveland Clinic, the Cleveland Museum of Natural History, the Cleveland Foundation, and the George Gund Foundation — have launched the Cleveland Carbon Fund to address this very issue.

There are already several options in the marketplace for interested parties to acquire emissions offsets to mitigate their carbon footprint. However, customers of these services usually do not know where the emission reductions will occur. For instance, if I use a service like TerraPass to offset the emissions from my next airline flight, I don’t know exactly where the emission reductions will occur. Looking at the emission reduction projects sponsored by TerraPass, they span the width of the entire U.S.

This is not a criticism of TerraPass and their competitors. Since carbon dioxide emissions are a global (not local) environmental issue, from a climate change perspective, it doesn’t matter if the emission reductions are achieved in Cleveland or Kuala Lumpur. TerraPass et. al. merely select the emission reduction projects with the most bang for the least buck, whereever they might be.

But, why can’t we aim to reduce emissions while also spurring employment in our own backyard? That’s the impetus underlying the creation of the Cleveland Carbon Fund.

Those of us involved in the founding of the Cleveland Carbon Fund believe that it’s the first carbon emission reduction program that is community-focused — using funds to sponsor emission reduction projects in our particular geographic region in order to stimulate local economic activity.

The Cleveland Carbon Fund is now open for business. For those of you committed to mitigating climate change, and to the economic health of the Cleveland area, check it out at Donations are welcome.

Richard T. Stuebi is the BP Fellow for Energy and Environmental Advancement at The Cleveland Foundation, and is also the Founder and President of NextWave Energy, Inc. Later in 2009, he will also become a Managing Director at Early Stage Partners.

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