A Simple Solution for Climate Change that You Can Start in 5 Minutes
We Don’t Have Time’s friends at GoClimateNeutral believe the climate crisis can be averted, and they work 24/7 to make it happen. They make it easy to support certified climate projects, speeding up the transformation to a fossil-fuel-free world, and they inspire people to take meaningful climate action.
Since both of our organizations are based in Stockholm, we met up for a coffee to ask GoClimateNeutral a few questions. It went like this…
We Don’t Have Time (WDHT): Hello, friends and planet fighters!
GoClimateNeutral (GCN): Hello!
WDHT: So, let’s get down to it. Tell me about GoClimateNeutral. What is it all about?
GCN: We believe that if we’re enough people who understand the severity of the challenge ahead and are ready to act in line with the 1.5 degrees goal, the climate crisis can be averted more quickly and easily than most people think. We can save the world if we act now.
WDHT: So how do we do that?
GCN: At GoClimateNeutral we want to make it easy for people to take responsibility for their climate footprints. If all individuals, companies and countries took responsibility for their emissions, we would stop climate change. The details of exactly what to do aren’t all laid out yet, but in theory it really is that easy.
And by signing up to our service you support the most effective, third-party-verified and certified climate projects we can find.
At the same time we encourage and help people take meaningful climate actions — like eating less meat, taking local vacations instead of flying, engaging in climate strikes, and downloading and engaging in the We Don’t Have Time app, of course!
WDHT: Ha-ha, yes, that last part is very important, of course!
GCN: Well, yes, it is. Lowering and taking responsibility for our personal climate footprints can only take us a bit of the way to where we need to go. We also need to demand that politicians, companies and other institutions in society step up. We need both personal change and system change.
WDHT: So, why did you start GoClimateNeutral?
GCN: Two years ago when we started, there was lots of talk about climate change, but very few did anything. We heard endless discussions about what to do yet saw very little action. We wanted to change that.
We believed that lots of people would follow if we could make it really easy to do something meaningful — something that really matters. So we created GoClimateNeutral.org, where our mission is to enable people to take meaningful climate action.
WDHT: Why did you decide to help people support climate projects? Won’t offsetting emissions through climate projects elsewhere encourage people to not lower their personal emissions — or possibly even to feel justified in increasing them?
GCN: That’s a good question, and it’s something we talked a lot about when we started. It turns out there are quite a lot of myths about supporting climate projects. Even though the concern you raise about carbon-offsetting is logically justified, there are no data that supports that people would continue to live like they do when they already are concerned enough to pay money to support climate projects.
That’s especially evident when someone receives targeted communications about how important it is to lower their personal climate footprint and how to do that, like they get when they join GoClimateNeutral. It turns out that 85 percent of our users are actively lowering their emissions, and not a single one that took part in our last user survey had increased their emissions due to signing up for our service. The notion that offsetting is a way to buy freedom from responsibility just doesn’t hold true.
WHDT: And how do you know which climate projects to support?
GCN: There are several climate project certification schemes, and it’s unfortunately quite complicated to understand the difference or choose which projects to support if you don’t have lots of time to read up on the projects and the certifications.
To add to the complexity, not all certifications and not all climate projects have been delivering on their promises. There have been quite a few climate projects that have turned out to have negative consequences on the environment and the people living in the areas around the projects.
Our job is to navigate this jungle so our users don’t have to — to find the most trustworthy and effective climate projects out there. We’ve chosen to support Gold Standard-certified climate projects, which have the highest standard we’ve found for assessing each project’s climate impact and sustainable social environment.
Gold Standard is a non-profit foundation supported by World Wildlife Foundation (WWF) and about 80 other non-profits. It’s not perfect, but it is the best tool we have found to increase the speed of the transformation to a fossil-fuel-free world.
We aren’t committed to any certain certification, though. If better projects or certifications emerge in the future that are third-party-verified and as transparent and reliable as Gold Standard, we would consider those.
WDHT: I had a look on your site. How can it be so cheap to offset my lifestyle?
GCN: This is probably the most common question we get. First of all, if everyone on the planet offset their lifestyle, there would be huge amounts of money going toward the transformation to a fossil-fuel-free society. We could potentially be done with the climate crisis within a decade or two.
Secondly, you can make a big impact on the climate with relatively small amounts of money. There are a lot of low-hanging emission-reduction fruits — lots of fossil fuel emissions that can be avoided quite cheaply. We’re all about trying to find the most impact we can with the resources we have. And so far, we have found very good and high-quality climate projects.
We’ll see how this develops, though. We might need to increase our prices in the future due to all low-hanging fruits being taken. Or we might be able to lower our prices if technical development makes it even cheaper to make a climate impact with money.
WDHT: So what is your goal with all of this?
GCN: Our only goal is to stop climate change. When that is done, we probably need to reverse climate change as well. And when we’re done with that, we’ll celebrate!
WDHT: What do you think is the most important thing an individual can do to contribute to stopping climate change?
GCN: It can depend a lot, of course, and there is no one correct answer here. We encourage our users to engage in climate strikes, start climate groups at work, engage in the We Don’t Have Time community, eat less meat, drive less, and fly less. And, of course, the people who have the opportunity to do so can support climate projects through services like ours.
WDHT: And for everyone reading this article, what is the immediate step they should take?
GCN: A good start is always to head over to GoClimateNeutral.org and join us there.
WDHT: What do you believe is our role as citizens versus our role as consumers? Where do these roles overlap or align, or is there any difference?
GCN: We all need to act like our house is on fire, because, as Greta Thunberg said, it is. We need to do as much as we can, both as citizens and consumers. The discussion about the difference is interesting to have as long as it doesn’t delay us from doing everything we can, right now.
WDHT: And what about those saying that our deeds and actions don’t matter because an individual person or an individual country doesn’t make a difference on a global scale?
GCN: First of all, climate change is already here. Every ton of emissions that we prevent from entering the atmosphere can actually save lives.
And secondly, the problem with the argument is pretty obvious: if we all think like that, nothing will get done.
My climate footprint means almost nothing compared to Sweden’s footprint. Sweden’s is very small compared to the U.S. The entire U.S. footprint is small compared to China’s emissions. And China’s historical carbon footprint is very small compared to the historical footprint of the U.S.
We could all divide our countries into smaller parts if we want to, and blame the other parts that are bigger. We could all point at someone else. The problem is that we cannot do that, if we want to save our house from burning down. We need to act now.
GoClimateNeutral makes it easy for people to take responsibility for their climate footprints via certified climate projects. GoClimateNeutral is a social company, with the only goal of trying to stop climate change.
Join us: https://www.goclimateneutral.org.
Also do watch their portfolio video.
Facts about We Don’t Have Time
We Don’t Have Time is the world’s largest social network for climate action. Together we are the solution to the climate crisis.
But we are running out of time.
Join us: www.wedonthavetime.org.