City of Philadelphia Launches On-Line Carbon Offset Calculator

Erase Your Trace allows people to calculate emissions and make a contribution to plant trees

Mayor Michael A. Nutter has announced the newest component of the City of Philadelphia’s effort to become the number one green city in the United States: a local carbon offset market that will raise money for tree planting in Philadelphia.  Erase Your Trace – an online tool – will help Philadelphians calculate their annual carbon dioxide emissions and then help offset them through local tree planting efforts.

“This is an easy way for Philadelphians to better understand their personal impact on the environment and take action to help reduce it,” said Mayor Nutter.  “I encourage everyone to use Erase Your Trace, find out about their carbon emissions, and make a contribution towards making Philadelphia a greener city.”

 This new tool – Erase Your Trace – will allow individuals to determine their emissions from daily routines like driving a car, heating a home or taking plane trips; learn tips on how to lower their carbon dioxide output; and offset their emissions by donating money to the Fairmount Park Conservancy. Fairmount Park Conservancy, a local nonprofit organization that raises funds for and awareness of the city’s Fairmount Park system, will, in turn, donate the funds raised to plant trees in Philadelphia’s neighborhoods.  Local companies can also use the program to determine how much carbon their business activities produce annually.

 “Erase Your Trace is a win-win-win for Philadelphians, our environment, and our climate, and an important step towards achieving our Greenworks Philadelphia goals,” said Katherine Gajewski, Director of Sustainability for the City of Philadelphia.   

 The project uses the CarbonPlus Calculator, developed by the U.S. Forest Service, to quantify and monetize carbon output (the Calculator prices carbon at $20 per ton, which is the price currently being used by the Obama Administration).  Trees help reduce carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas that has been linked to global warming.  Philadelphia’s 2.1 million trees sequester 16,100 tons of carbon per year. The “plus” is that the tree planting activities funded through Erase Your Trace will help offset carbon emissions “plus” reduce other pollutants such as nitrogen dioxide, sulfur dioxide, ozone and particulate matter.  Philadelphia’s trees also reduce urban heat island effect, decrease stormwater runoff, and increase property values.   Three organizations worked with the Forest Service to bring this technology to Philadelphia—the Mayor’s Office of Sustainability, Fairmount Park Conservancy and the Department of Parks and Recreation—and it is an initiative of Greenworks Philadelphia.

“The Erase Your Trace program is an important and exciting way for individuals and businesses to help Philadelphia increase its tree cover, which is so critical to people’s quality of life and the city’s livability,” said Michael T. Rains, director of the USDA Forest Service’s Northern Research Station, which is headquartered in Newtown Square, PA.  “I’m very pleased the Northern Research Station could help our hometown create the Erase Your Trace web site, which will increase Philadelphians’ awareness of how they can personally reduce carbon emissions.”

 The average Philadelphian produces 10.2 tons of carbon dioxide annually, “costing” the environment approximately $200 each year.  Users of Erase Your Trace can decide whether to donate the full cost of their annual carbon emissions or only a portion to Fairmount Park Conservancy.  They can also choose to only offset specific activities such as vehicle use or airplane travel.  The on-line tool is flexible and fun.   

 “We welcome the announcement of Erase Your Trace as it will provide resources to help the Department of Parks and Recreation work towards Mayor Nutter’s goal of planting 300,000 new trees by 2015,” noted Fairmount Park Executive Director Mark Focht.

 “Erase Your Trace is a unique opportunity for individuals and corporations to offset their carbon footprint by giving to innovative local efforts and investing in the environment and future of our great city,” said Katrina L. Wilhelm, Executive Director of the Fairmount Park Conservancy.  “We are excited to be a partner in this important initiative.”

 Further details on Erase Your Trace can be found at www.eraseyourtrace.org.  Further details on Greenworks Philadelphia, Philadelphia’s sustainability framework, can be found at http://www.greenworksphila.org.

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