Frequently asked questions
This FAQ section includes answers to common questions not covered elsewhere on this site.
- What does the name CarbonStory stand for?
- What does the CarbonStory logo represent?
- Can I just buy offsets from CarbonStory without using the footprint calculator and/or the community features?
- Can I use CarbonStory to offset the emissions of my entire family?
- Can I use CarbonStory to offset the emissions of my business?
- I already purchase green electricity from my utility. How should I use the calculator?
- I have district heating at home. How should I use the calculator?
- I offset my flights separately through my airline. How should I use the calculator?
- I have already paid a "carbon tax" for my flight under a national scheme. How should I use the calculator?
- My country is introducing a carbon tax. Should I still buy offsets?
- How much is CarbonStory's margin on offset projects?
- Are you a not-for-profit or a for-profit organization?
- Can I claim tax deductions when purchasing offsets through CarbonStory?
- I really like CarbonStory. How can I get involved?
- I am a developer of carbon offset projects. How can I make my offset projects available to the CarbonStory community?
- Is CarbonStory looking for funding, grants or sponsorships?
What does the name CarbonStory stand for? [top]
We feel that CarbonStory conveys what we are trying to achieve in three different ways:
- Climate change is one of the key stories of our time and the final chapter has not yet been written. With a current world population of 7 billion people, projected to rise to 9.0-9.5 billion by mid-century, we risk being the generation that tips the balance towards irreversible climate change to the detriment of future generations. We can sit around and let this “business-as-usual” scenario unfold in front of our very eyes or we can act collectively to create a more positive future. CarbonStory empowers you to become part of the solution to dangerous climate change rather than being part of the problem.
- There are many entrepreneurs and NGOs around the world working on solutions that reduce greenhouse gas emissions. They all have stories to tell but chances are that you have not yet heard them. CarbonStory provides a platform where individuals can learn about a wide array of different greenhouse gas reduction projects and decide which ones to sponsor through the purchase of carbon offsets. The storytelling around projects makes the quest to avert dangerous climate change up-close and personal rather than abstract and detached.
- By purchasing offsets, you become part of the solution to climate change. We think that this is a story worth telling which is why we have integrated CarbonStory with Facebook so that you can share your story and encourage others to follow in your footsteps.
What does the CarbonStory logo represent? [top]
How do you visualize something that cannot be seen? That was a key challenge for us given that greenhouse gases are not readily observable to humans. Our designer came up with the idea of a dark “carbon cloud” to symbolize emissions of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere around Earth. Given that carbon offset projects seek to neutralize the negative impact of the dark “carbon cloud”, it was logical to use a white cloud to symbolize the positive impact of carbon offsetting. The idea being that you become carbon neutral if you get enough white clouds (carbon offsets) to cancel out your dark clouds (greenhouse gas emissions).
Can I just buy offsets from CarbonStory without using the footprint calculator and/or the community features? [top]
Yes. As soon as you have completed the registration process, you can go straight to the Offset Projects page and start selecting projects. To buy, you just need to checkout.
Can I use CarbonStory to offset the emissions of my entire family? [top]
Yes. During registration, and in the calculator, you can select between calculating the carbon footprint for an individual or for the entire household. If you wish to offset the emissions for your family, just select the household option.
Can I use CarbonStory to offset the emissions of my business? [top]
For the time being, CarbonStory is only offered to consumer users and we do not recommend business usage. We have however introduced an employee engagement offering. More details can be found here.
I already purchase green electricity from my utility. How should I use the calculator? [top]
In certain countries, utilities and electricity brokers allow customers to specify the type of electricity that they are buying. This may include options to buy electricity with no or very low greenhouse gas emissions (e.g. hydro power, wind power or nuclear power). CarbonStory’s calculator is using national averages and US state data that will not factor in the effect of such individual purchase decisions. If you know for sure that your electricity emissions have a negligible carbon footprint, you may choose to exclude your electricity consumption by opting to modify the default values in the household energy section of the calculator. You can then simply put your electricity consumption to zero.
I have district heating at home. How should I use the calculator? [top]
District heating is fairly common in Europe, in northern China and in parts of Canada, Japan and the US. While households typically get charged for the heating service, they usually do not receive an itemized bill showing energy consumption in kWh or another unit. This creates a modeling challenge given that we do not have data to use. If you live in a country where the district heating comes mainly from renewable energy with low greenhouse gas emissions (e.g. Iceland, Sweden), this is not a major problem. However, if you live in China where coal fired power plants may supply the district heating, it becomes a greater cause for concern. In the latter case, we suggest you simply allocate an equivalent number of kWh to your home consumption as if you would not have had district heating (or do not modify the default values at all).
If you have a better solution for how we can model district heating, please drop us a line to support[at]carbonstory.org.
I offset my flights separately through my airline. How should I use the calculator? [top]
A number of airlines offer customers the option to offset flight related emissions during online flight purchases. If you would like to capture all your emissions and offsets in MyAccount we suggest that you in the future only use CarbonStory to offset your emissions. If you have already purchased offsets for your flights, and would like to reflect this in your travel calculations, we suggest that you model your travel related emissions in detail by modifying the default values in the transportation section of the calculator. Simply exclude any flights for which you have already purchased offsets.
I have already paid a "carbon tax" on my flight under a national scheme. How should I use the calculator? [top]
There is a growing trend for countries to impose various forms of carbon taxes and emission trading schemes. These initiatives are laudable as we urgently need national as well as international regulation to address climate change. However, it is important to note that money collected through these government schemes are used for a variety of measures rather than being used specifically to offset the emissions from your flights. Hence, there is not a direct link between the carbon tax and offsetting the emissions from your flight. If you want to make sure that the climate impact of your flight is neutralized, we encourage you to offset it.
My country is introducing a carbon tax. Should I still buy offsets? [top]
Economists view greenhouse gas emissions as a negative externality given that emission intensive activities typically do not bear their full costs. As an example, in the absence of a carbon tax, fossil fuels have an unfair competitive advantage over renewable energy sources given that the former cause greenhouse gas emissions that are not paid for despite having a cost to society. The result can be that consumers and companies generate more greenhouse gas emissions than would have been the case if they had to bear the full cost of their actions. This is known as a market failure and regulators use different policy mechanisms, such as carbon taxes, to try to correct market failures. Given that fossil fuels will be taxed after the introduction of a carbon tax, while renewables go untaxed, different fuel types can compete on more equal terms.
So, if your country has, or is about to impose a carbon tax, should you still buy carbon offsets? We think the answer is yes for two reasons. First, the money collected as part of the carbon tax usually goes into the government budget. This means that the money can be used for healthcare, job creation, consumer income tax breaks or a number of different initiatives. The money does usually not go to offset greenhouse gas emissions from the activity that was taxed. Hence, a carbon tax is usually not a safe way to go carbon neutral. Second, most governments are introducing quite benign carbon taxes. Given this, there is a risk that consumers and industry just pay the carbon tax without changing their behavior. In that case, a carbon tax really only becomes a shift in taxation policy (e.g. a tax on carbon against a reduction in income tax). In fact, Lester Brown (PDF) with colleagues have proposed that we need carbon taxes as high as USD 240 per tonne to be effective and most national plans are currently far from that level.
How much is CarbonStory's margin on offset projects? [top]
While we do not publicize the margin on offset projects, we aspire to provide some of the lowest prices in the market for consumer users seeking to purchase offset credits from specific projects. To verify our claim, we encourage you to shop around and look at what is offered before purchasing any offset credits from us.
Are you a non-for-profit or a for-profit organization? [top]
CarbonStory was created as a social business and our social mission is at the very center of everything we do. Our form of incorporation is as a Limited Liability Partnership (LLP) under Singapore law. This means that we are registered as a regular tax-paying business rather than as a charity. However, to date CarbonStory has never paid any dividends and all proceeds have been reinvested to further our social mission.
Can I claim tax deductions when purchasing offsets through CarbonStory? [top]
Given that CarbonStory is not a registered charity, you will likely not be able to claim a tax deduction. In addition, rules governing tax deduction often require users to make donations rather than purchase products and services. Should tax deductions be a primary motivator for you, we encourage you to seek out other offset providers that enable users to make donations that qualify for tax relief. Anyway, for most users, the total cost of going carbon neutral is relatively low so any tax gains will typically be small.
We did investigate seeking tax exempt status for CarbonStory but have currently decided against it as national rules regarding tax deductions typically require people to donate money to locally registered entities. Hence, achieving this status in Singapore would typically not allow users in other countries to claim tax deductions. To achieve that benefit for our users, we would need to incorporate locally and then apply for tax exempt status. Setting up multiple legal entities overseas is simply too expensive and complex for a small organization like CarbonStory.
I really like CarbonStory. How can I get involved? [top]
At this stage of our development, we are a volunteer driven organization. If you are interested in volunteering, please drop us a line to join[at]carbonstory.org with details about your skills and interests.
I am a developer of carbon offset projects. How can I make my offset projects available to the CarbonStory community? [top]
We are always on the lookout for high quality offset projects to offer to CarbonStory’s users. Please contact us through projects[at]carbonstory.org with details about your projects if you meet the following criteria:
- Standards: Gold Standard, Plan Vivo or VCS
- Open to repeated small volume transactions
- Availability of photos and videos
Is CarbonStory looking for funding, grants or sponsorships? [top]
To date, CarbonStory is 100% funded by the co-founders. We believe we have been able to go quite far with limited financial resources and with additional support we could do much more. If you are interested in sponsoring CarbonStory site or funding our efforts in any other way, please drop us a line to support[at]carbonstory.org.