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Carbon & Climate Change
Climate change is one of the most pressing problems of our time and is demanding adaptation by every sector of society. Efforts to prevent or reduce global warming have focused heavily on the release of greenhouse gases – especially carbon dioxide, which is primarily released through the burning of fossil fuels. Any effort to establish the Great Lakes as a center of the green economy must address greenhouse gas emissions.
The legislative and regulatory environment related to carbon and other greenhouse gasses continues to be uncertain and complex. Recognizing the potential advantages of operating in a leaner, less resource intensive way, many businesses are starting to measure, reduce and/or offset carbon emissions. Much of this is driven by large purchasers, such as Walmart and Bank of America, which include carbon reporting among sustainability requirements for their suppliers. Cities and towns are also taking stock of their carbon footprints. Chicago, along with various states and regional bodies, has developed climate change mitigation and adaptation plans setting voluntary goals and establishing strategies for carbon emissions reductions by public and private institutions. Many other municipalities and regions are addressing carbon as part of an overall sustainability strategy. The movement toward a low carbon economy is also creating economic opportunity for small- and medium-farmers, foresters, and other landowners, especially in the farmland-rich Great Lakes region, and providing an incentive to invest in conservation practices.
What Delta Is Doing
Delta’s goal is to help reduce carbon emissions by 12 million tons by 2020 across the Great Lakes Region. To achieve this goal, Delta is:
• Helping businesses of various types and sizes measure their carbon footprints as a springboard for implementing green building, green purchasing, energy efficiency and renewable energy strategies that produce economic as well as environmental benefits.
• Working with government agencies to develop climate change action plans, establish baseline measurements for carbon and other environmental impacts, institute energy efficiency, green building and other conservation programs for public facilities, and establish local carbon offset opportunities.
• Helping individuals reduce carbon at home and at work in a variety of ways, including providing low-income homeowners with weatherization services and selling carbon offsets to the public through travel and entertainment websites.
• Designing and implementing economic models that create incentives for environmental and conservation activities related to climate change. For instance, Delta Carbon is providing opportunities for small- and medium-sized farmers, agricultural operations, and forest managers to fight global warming and earn and sell carbon credits by adopting conservation practices on hundreds of thousands of acres. In Illinois and Michigan alone, nearly 1,200 landowners and operators have enrolled some 300,000 acres. As an aggregator, Delta Institute calculates, pools and trades carbon offset credits for these lands and has returned more than $2 million to program participants.
• Creating practical carbon protocols that are standardized, transparent, quantifiable, and verifiable, as well as identifying new ways to monetize good practices and replicate them in other areas.
• Monitoring climate and energy policy developments and helping stakeholders understand them as they affect their operations, communities, and landscapes.
Where Do You Want to GO Next?
• Visit the Delta Carbon Offsets webpage
To explore additional green opportunities, visit our Green Economy Navigator.