Thursday, April 02, 2009

The Almanac: The of Carbon Emissions

The Almanac is working on a set of tools that will tap into users’ electric bills and credit-card statements to create an automatic carbon consumption log based on the products users buy, including gasoline and airline tickets. Users will also be able to add more data, but the idea is to garner as much objective information as possible without users having to do anything after they’ve added the accounts they want included.

To help put the impact of users’ emissions in context, the tools also will project how the climate would change in 50 years if individual users — and their carbon emissions — represented the norm, Bloch-Johnson said. The company aims to also include information about how and where the products its users have purchased are made. And a second set of tools will recommend actions users can take to reduce their carbon footprints, along with an estimate of the amount those products or actions will help, he added.

The startup expects to support itself through advertisements. To keep the claims real and avoid potential conflicts of interest with the recommendations, The Almanac plans to require companies to specify how much their sponsored products will actually reduce users’ footprints, Bloch-Johnson said.
I like the idea of automatically figuring out your footprint by grabbing your credit card information. But, the information about what was purchased needs to be captured as well and right now the credit card companies don't do that. Was that $20 of gasoline you got at Chevron, or was it $10 of gasoline and 10 hot dogs? I hope someone adds that ability to send the itemized purchase information to the credit card companies instead of just the purchase amount. This would also be useful in Quicken as well if you really want to drill down as to what each purchase was made up of. I wonder if maybe the way to get this going it to start a Carbon Footprint Credit Card that would then try and get businesses like Whole Foods to sign up to send all the purchase data their way. I think it would be easier for a credit card company to make this happen.

I am also skeptical that there is a complete enough database of products' carbon footprints for this website to really work. Hopefully that will change in the near future though.

via Earth2Tech

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