Carbon offsetting has recently come under scrutiny for its effectiveness in reducing emissions and its potential for “greenwashing” by companies looking to improve their environmental impact without actually reducing their emissions. However, sometimes we forget that there are real data-based offset projects making an impact right in our doorstep, like Greenlines Technology with its mobility app, Cowlines.
Greenlines’ Mobility Carbon Engine (MCE), the brain behind the Cowlines app, is a piece of software developed according to international standards, like ISO14064-2, and GHG quantification methodologies, that accurately quantifies, reports, and verifies emission reductions generated by individuals traveling using low carbon transport modes such as public transit, ride sharing, bikesharing, scooters, and even active transportation like biking or walking. And the best part? It’s all made possible through a simple trip planning app.
“More than 90% of their rainforest offset credits are likely to be “phantom credits” and do not represent genuine carbon reductions.” – The Guardian
The MCE uses real-time data from transportation providers to calculate the carbon emissions avoided by using these low carbon modes of transportation when compared to a custom baseline for each user. This data is then verified by an independent third party and used to generate carbon credits that can be used for offsetting or trading on carbon markets.
What sets the MCE apart from other carbon offsetting solutions is its focus on individual actions and its ability to track the direct impact of those actions on emissions reductions. By encouraging individuals to make sustainable travel choices, the MCE is able to effectively reduce emissions on a large scale.
But the MCE isn’t just beneficial for the environment; it also has the potential to improve mobility for individuals and cities. The app’s trip planning feature allows users to easily find and compare the carbon footprint of different transportation options, and also includes information on cost and travel time. This can help encourage the use of low carbon transport modes, leading to a reduction in traffic congestion and air pollution in cities.
So, not all offset projects and credits are created equal. Some use modelling and estimates, like most forestry offset projects. Others, like Greenlines’ personal mobility offset project, provide direct incentives to people making the right choices. And that, in my opinion, is something worth fighting for.