Greenhouse Gases and Carbon Offsets

Early on in our design process we agreed as a team that by default we would work to offset all trips taken with Mobi as honestly and completely as possible. Rather than rely on a third party to handle the offsets for us, we decided to pick and fund our own collection of projects so we could be sure that the clean energy we generate to offset would not come on line without us and also that we could be deployed in a location with the greatest overall positive impact.

We used the following numbers to scope our potential projects and pick the one(s) we expect to be most effective.

We considered a number of projects:

  1. Purchasing land in the Amazon that had already been deforested and reforesting it. According to NASA, tropical rain forests consume 1.4 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide relative to 2.5 billion total metric tons consumed per year. Based on EIA data, tropical forests offset the carbon dioxide of ~ 250 cars per year. As of 2016, for our first launch cities (NY, Philadelphia, Boston, DC and San Francisco), between 10.6 and 16.7% of commuters walk or bike to work and we assume a similar percentage will run errands in the same way. While with Mobi we expect to see travel patterns shift in unexpected ways, assuming these averages hold we would need to purchase 146.6 acres of forest per 50,000 users.Madagascar
  2. Installing solar in an area where electricity comes at a particularly high particulate and GHG cost. According to the World Bank since 1960 electricity generation production has jumped from contributing ~29% of global carbon dioxide to in 2014 more than 48% of global carbon dioxide. The Union of Concerned Scientists found a typical 600 MW (2,047,285,470 BTU/hr) coal plant will produce 3.5 million tons of CO2, 7,000 tons of SO2, 3,300 tons of NOx, 500 tons of small airborne particles, 170 lb of Mercury and 220 tons of hydrocarbons. Oil refinery at twilight sky
  3. Providing bicycles to people who drive a lot but are the perfect mode shift candidates. This way we could monitor our exact emissions savings. According to researchers in BU, between 1980 and 2012, 80% of the increase in CO2 emissions came from urban vehicles and 63% of all vehicle emissions came from metro regions.

    PNAS
    PNAS

Globally, 7 million or one in eight deaths are caused by air pollution according to the World Health Organization.  Of these, 4.3 million deaths occur are due to the use of coal, dung or biomass as a cooking fuel. More than 2.9 billion people still use one of these resources as their primary source of heat. These statistics lead us to our first project: providing solar for electricity and cooking in Tibet and India.

This way we are able to decrease demand for trees as fuel, decrease the use of dung as fuel and precisely quantify our energy savings and the women who usually need to spend time gathering wood or dung will have more time for other activities.

Follow us to watch as this project evolves and economics come together. Our goal is to be fully offsetting all trips by the end of our first year in operation as user supporting company. One question for the future: what will happen to all the water buffalo and yak dung? Local and small scale bio-digester, maybe?

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