for National Geographic News
While global warming is nothing to laugh at, an Australian company is providing some comic relief, selling carbon credits for flatulent pets and people.
So-called carbon emissions, such as carbon dioxide and methane, are greenhouse gases that are thought to be key factors in climate change. These emissions can be offset by purchasing carbon credits, which may be used to fund environmental programs.
(Get the facts about global warming.)
For 35 Australian dollars (about 27 U.S. dollars), customers of Sydney-based Easy Being Green can offset a year's worth of carbon emissions linked to their dogs, from trips to the vet to, yes, breaking wind.
Making your cat carbon neutral for a year costs U.S.$6, while U.S.$16 offsets two years of flatulence from that special someone.
The company says it offsets the climate-warming effects of emissions from cars, planes, humans, and pets by installing energy-saving fluorescent light bulbs and water-saving shower heads in houses in New South Wales, Australia (see map of Australia.)
The energy savings reduce the need for electricity, which in Australia is largely generated by carbon-emitting, coal-fired power plants, the company says.
Last year the three-year-old company sold or gave away three million compact fluorescent light bulbs, making it the largest importer of such bulbs in Australia.
In exchange, customers signed over the projected carbon savings to Easy Being Green, which then sold them as carbon emission rights on the New South Wales carbon-trading market.
State law requires electric utilities and other regulated industries to offset their carbon emissions.
Easy Being Green says its programs have saved over 680,000 tons of atmospheric carbon per year. According to its Web site, that is equivalent to taking 150,000 cars off the road.
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