Colorado Introduces Carbon Offset License Plate

Feeling guilty about pollution but can't part with your SUV? Now you can proudly display your autophobia over your exhaust pipe.

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If big companies can pay to offset their carbon usage, why can’t your average Joe? Well, if you live in Colorado, now you can. For a minimum donation of $25, you can buy a certificate for a carbon offset license plate, made possible by the Colorado Carbon Fund through Project C, a voluntary carbon offset program developed by the Governor’s Energy Office. Of course, this fee does not include extra fees tacked on by the DMV for special plates and registration renewal. Although other states offer special plates for certain causes, this marks the first carbon offset license plate in the nation.

According to the Project C website, it costs $20 to offset one metric ton of CO2. They claim that “offsets, by definition, cancel out emissions. Therefore, while your activities, such as driving, may still result in carbon dioxide emissions, by offsetting through the Colorado Carbon Fund overall carbon dioxide emissions are reduced.” Goals of the project include developing a funding source for community-based clean energy and climate mitigation projects in Colorado, supporting Colorado’s climate change mitigation objectives, and providing high quality, credible offsets for individuals, businesses and government agencies interested in mitigating their carbon footprint

I’ve always taken issue with paying money to offset carbon emissions (or pollution of any sort). This process seems to ignore the actual issue of pollution while not punishing those who egregiously destroy the environment. Rather than being apologetic polluters, we should be consciously changing our lifestyles to lower our environmental impact. Money can’t fix the ozone.

However, Project C provides resources for calculating your carbon footprint and tips for reducing your environmental impact (without having to drastically overhaul your lifestyle). They’ve also wrangled local business and the University of Colorado at Boulder into their cause. These companies purchase carbon offsets, which in turn fund Project C’s quest “to support the development and implementation of greenhouse gas offset projects in Colorado.”

But seriously – if you own an H3, you’d better donate more than $25 for this plate.

—Adrienne Saia Isaac