Home News The Democratic Convention: Tickets, luggage, oh, and the carbon credits

The Democratic Convention: Tickets, luggage, oh, and the carbon credits

Published on 26/08/2008

26 August 2008

Washington — On her way from India to the Democratic Convention in Denver, Colorado, party delegate Carolyn Sauvage-Mar bought carbon credits.

Ninety dollars was all it took to neutralize the emissions from her round trip of 24,000 kilometers between New Delhi and the western city where Democratic Party delegates gathered on Monday.

This time around, in addition to formally nominating Senator Barack Obama as their presidential candidate, Democrats are looking to polish their image as champions of the environment.

"I am happy to participate in the program, glad the Democratic Party asked us to go green and will definitely consider using this option again," wrote Carolyn Sauvage-Mar, chair of the Indian branch of Democrats Abroad, in an e-mail to DPA.

So-called "green delegates" will be rewarded with a "unique wearable green item" that will set them apart during the four-day party convention, the Democratic National Committee says.

Speaker of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi, the permanent chairwoman of the convention, laid down the "Green Delegate Challenge" to the more than 4,000 official delegates elected during state-by-state party votes earlier this year. All are traveling to Denver.

From every corner
Sauvage-Mar and 21 other delegates flying in from abroad will be traveling a total of more than 200,000 kilometers "quite literally … from every corner of the world," said Christine Schon Marques, international chairwoman of Democrats Abroad.

Schon Marques, who lives in Switzerland, said in an e-mail that she has been buying carbon credits on her own for some time to offset her travel, "most recently" to support a "reforestation project."

Delegates used the Democratic National Convention’s web link to pay the carbon credits via a partnership with NativeEnergy, a brokerage operated by a council of Native American tribes. The process took "one minute," Geoff Berlin wrote from Ukraine.

Berlin is actually in the business of reducing greenhouse gas emissions through his company in the Ukraine, Carbon Plus.

In his e-mail, he said that the United States has "abdicated its potential leadership role" under the Bush administration, and expressed belief that Obama would change that as president.

100 percent participation
In addition to the foreign delegates, 26 American states and the Virgin Islands are also at 100 percent participation in the ‘green challenge,’ according to the convention website.

During her travels between the US and India, Sauvage-Mar noted the striking difference in national media coverage of climate change.

"In India, a leading magazine’s analysis of carbon emissions emphasized the per capita measure, which in India’s case is relatively low," she wrote. "In the United States, news reports highlighted the totality of a country’s carbon emissions, which put India and China into the hot seat of being the world’s biggest polluters."

In the US in 2004, per capita carbon-dioxide emissions were 20.4 metric tons in 2004, according to the US Department of Energy. For China, that figure was 3.84 metric tons per person, and for India 1.2 metric tons per capita.

"The differences point to the need for extraordinary political leadership to effectively tackle global problems such as climate change," Sauvage-Mar wrote.

Carbon credits purchased by Democratic delegates are helping to build or operate four projects: the wind turbine of a cash-starved school district in Wray, Colorado; another wind turbine for a Minnesota soybean, corn and alfalfa farm; a methane capture project on a 600-cow Pennsylvania dairy farm, which operates a 130-kilowatt generator for farm operations; and a Des Plaines, Illinois, landfill gas project north of Chicago which is capturing and selling methane gas.

— Pat Reber/Expatica