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  • Published: Jul 30th, 2010
  • Category: USA
  • Comments: 2

Aspen Institute faces carbon conundrum


| Sourced From Aspentimes |

ASPEN The Aspen Institute has made big strides in recent years to reduce the carbon footprint of its public forums and other special events once speakers and attendees reach the Meadows campus.

But when it comes to the more imposing problem of offsetting carbon emissions produced by travel to and from Aspen, the world-renowned think tank’s efforts are just taking flight.

The Institute is no better or worse than a lot of business and organizations starting to craft policies to offset travel-related emissions. The Institute, though, might be held to a higher standard because of its mission bringing together policymakers, business titans and leading thinkers to ponder the world’s problems.

The Institute is trying to offset travel-related carbon emissions associated with the Aspen Environment Forum, a conference that started Sunday to examine issues such as climate change. It will purchase carbon offsets on the free market to try to counterbalance the travel effects of the 300-plus attendees and scores of presenters.

David Monsma, executive director of the institute’s energy and environment program, said the staff supplies attendance numbers and an estimate of where attendees are traveling from to a firm called Native Energy. The company calculates the carbon resulting from the travel, charges The Aspen Institute a fee per ton, and invests those funds in renewable energy projects.

Carbon offsets are also purchased for the emissions produced by the event’s audience while they are in Aspen.

Monsma said the Institute has spent between $3,000 and $5,000 annually on the carbon offsets for the Environment Forum in the three years it has been held. The payments have been in cash or trades for an advertisement by Native Energy in the official program for the event.

The carbon-offset process has its critics, and it is going through intense scrutiny that could lead to improvements. But for now, Monsma said,

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