Published on May 15th, 2008 | by Guest Contributor0
GTR: Achieving Corporate Carbon Neutrality with Yahoo! Green
Sean Daily, Green Living Ideas’ Editor-in-Chief, talks with Chris Page, Director of Climate and Energy Strategy of Yahoo! Green, about new Yahoo! announcements, the corporation’s commitment to carbon neutrality, and the specifics of achieving neutrality on a corporate level through carbon projects and third party certification.
Hey everybody, this is Sean Daily, thanks as always for listening in
today on Greenlivingideas.com’s Green Talk radio. Today we’re going to
be talking on a topic that we’ve talked about before but a little bit
different take on it. We’re going to be talking with Yahoo Green and
instead of talking about green living tips, which is what talked about
last time I had them as a guest on the program, we’re going to be
talking about some new announcements from Yahoo and carbon neutrality
and some of those other related topics. To talk with me about that
from Yahoo Green is Chris Page who is the director for Yahoo Climate
and Energy Strategy. Chris, welcome to the program.
Chris Page: Thank you Sean.
Sean Daily: So tell us first of all just your role at Yahoo Green what you do day to day.
Chris Page: Alright, I’m director of Climate and Energy Strategy for
Yahoo and I’m in charge of making good on our Carbon Neutral Program.
I’ll talk a little bit more about that and I also coordinate with our
200 person volunteer Green Team which is internal to Yahoo, help them
figure out ways to continuasly make the company more green than we
Sean Daily: Yes. I understand too, that the way that it works, if I
remember from the last time when I was talking to Meg Garlinghouse on
the previous pod cast that, being part of the Yahoo Green Team is
something that regular employees sort of cycle themselves through and
can be participate and can sort of get, and I don’t want to say get a
reprieve from their day job, but they get to sort of participate in
this for a certain period of time in the company. Is that about right,
the way it works?
Chris Page: That’s actually is a Green Scrum Program, it’s a little
bit different but yes, it is an opportunity to get a break from their
regular cycle. The Green Team in addition to that is just folks who in
addition to their regular day jobs do volunteer activities, get
involved with our Green List Serve; I’ve got an individual who is
helping to really make our recycling program a bit more exciting.
She’s a part-time student getting a degree in Sustainable Design.
We’ve got some very interesting projects coming down the pike soon and
some other areas as well. So yes, 200 people across the company the
numbers are growing. There’s a lot of excitement just in every single
Yahoo around this particular inicuative and the work we’re doing there.
Sean Daily: Now I understand that Yahoo just had a recent major
announcement related to carbon neutrality. Can you tell us about that?
Chris Page: Certainly. Back in April, we committed as a company to
being carbon neutral by the end of 2007. We’re the first major
Internet Company to do so and a few weeks back we made an announcement
that we’re making good on our promise and provided details about how
we’re getting there in terms of offset projects that we’ve purchased
and other incentives, other steps we’re taking to do so.
Sean Daily: So now exactly what is for those not completely
familiar, these terms get banted about and sometimes don’t always get
very defined very well, so what exactly does it mean to be Carbon
Chris Page: Right. There are a couple of steps along the way to the
road to Carbon Neutrality. The first thing you want to do is figure
out is how much greenhouse gas we are emitting as a company, as a part
of doing business. And then absolutely first and foremost you want to
look for ways to address energy efficiently, look for ways to reduce
energy consumption within your company. Mitigate your way to impact
doing that, that’s good business practices. And what you want to do
with the remainder of that is purchase carbon offset projects to offset
the remaining greenhouse gas emissions that Yahoo emits over the course
of the year as part of doing business that’s how you get to Carbon
Sean Daily: I see. So the offsets are something, can you
technically define for us again, as long as we are doing basic term
definitions what a Carbon Offset is?
Chris Page: A Carbon Offset Project is a project that reduces carbon
somewhere, via either alternative energy, via sequestrations,
disforestry force, whatever. Beyond business as usual. So it results
in a net reduction in green house gas emissions above what would have
happened in the absence of the Carbon Offset Project.
Sean Daily: OK. And so I understand there’s an entire total market,
almost a like stock market for carbon trading and offsets and things
like that and tell us about these third party providers that can
provide these offsets for businesses or even individuals how can they
help in this case a company looking to go to carbon neutral achieve
that and specifically who did Yahoo choose in this regard?
Chris Page: Yahoo worked with two providers. We worked with Cantor
CO2E, which is a subsidiary of Cantor Fitzgerald. They’re a broker who
provided us with wind credits from India, from South and Eastern India,
South and Western India. And we also worked with Eco Securities which
provided us with offset project in Western Brazil a small run of river
hydro-electric projects primo vera which just went online this past
year in the spring.
Sean Daily: OK. Now I’m just curious, now what made Yahoo decide on
those particular projects in Brazil and India above other potential
Chris Page: Well when we went into this we actually reviewed about
100 different potential offset projects and we had certain criteria in
mind. We wanted to make sure that the offsets we were buying were high
quality. We wanted them to be verified by a third party. We did
that. We wanted to have an approach that was uniquely Yahoo. We
wanted to buy offsets from projects that were in an area where Yahoo
has a presence; we’ve got a presence both in Brazil and India. And we
wanted to tie it back to a community project that empowers people in a
specific way. What we did there was we found a community in Western
Brazil, my first day on the job here I got on a plane, flew down to
Brazil to check out the hydro-electric project that we were considering
purchasing offsets from and we went to a small community called Cortasa
Del Rio who receives it’s power in part from this particular offset
project. Currently school is not connected to the Internet. They just
started getting power a year ago. So what we’ve done is we’re setting
up a computer lab in the school in this community in order to get them
connected to the Internet and the outside world in order to empower
them and increase their communication.
Sean Daily: Alright. Well we’re going to a break right there Chris
because I have to break for a word for a commercial and our sponsor so
we will be right back with Chris Page who is the director for Yahoo
Climate and Energy Strategy.
Sean Daily: OK, we’re back with Chris Page who is the director for
Yahoo Climate and Energy Strategy at Yahoo Green. Chris we were
talking about the project in Brazil. Can you describe that the
project, we were talking about the carbon offset project that Yahoo got
involved with from the third party provider to offset, and I think that
you had mentioned that the India was the wind farm and that Brazil was
the hydro electric?
Chris Page: That’s correct.
Sean Daily: OK, can you tell us a little bit more about that?
Chris Page: Certainly. You know in both those countries it’s an
incredibly important time to support and boost the presence of clean
energy. India is the fifth most carbon intensive country in the world
in terms of this electricity and demand for electricity is growing.
Huge amount of coal is being used there so anything that supports the
growth of the wind industry there is incredibly important. In Western
Brazil, again demand for electricity is growing incredibly quickly.
Diesel is subsidized by the Brazilian government. So projects like the
small scale [xx] hydro project we’re supporting really running neck and
neck in competition with that kind of development. The development of
Diesel, so really both those places are at a crossroads in support of
offsets like what Yahoo is doing is incredibly important and crucial at
Sean Daily: So would it be fair to say that Yahoo is a company
really believes in these carbon credits because there has been some
controversy around it, whether it’s some you know some people have
liken it to the medieval sort of buying off your sins and such and the
market and their not quite as effective. I mean you know certainly
there’s two side to the argument what is Yahoo sort of position about
Chris Page: Well what we see is that this is an important tool in
the toolbox. And what’s required to really address climate change and
to mitigate it is a bunch of different approaches. We need the
efficiency that we are prousing aggressively here. We need carbon
offsets because they are a market based approach that’s really
valuable. We need engagement of our 500 million users who log onto
Yahoo and increasing their awareness by our activities and green living
tips. So definitely offsets are part of the piece of the puzzle. Part
of one of the tools in the toolbox, it’s not the whole picture.
Sean Daily: Right, OK.
Chris Page: The other part about offsets is that you want to make
sure you buy stuff that’s high quality and verifiable. And they’re a
nation market and I feel like by being transparent in our approach and
talking about this, we’re offering information and sharing our
learnings with other people so that we can really make this market [xx]
Sean Daily: Now on continuing on that point, if you don’t mind me
continuing this a little bit more because I know that a lot of people
and a lot of our listeners about this, have you found at Yahoo any
resources that you can point our listeners to that help them make that
assessments as to what are sort of you know third party accredited or
real or better carbon offset providers versus ones that are more fly by
night or not quite as have as much integrity.
Chris Page: You know if you go to Green@yahoo.com,
there’s lots of resources to cross a bunch of different industries to
look at. There’s also an excellent report, on eco security. Sorry,
excuse me. There’s also an excellent report on eco system market place
which gets into the voluntary carbon market and outlines a bunch of the
issues and some of the good things that are going on there as well [xx]
Sean Daily: OK. Thanks. I’m curious also what is this term
additionally all about? I mean can you explain sort of why buying
carbon credits you know for an existing damn, in this case, in the case
of Brazil is helping miniamalize environmental impact?
Chris Page: Right. Understood. The Primo Vera Damn in Brazil is one
that came up online this year and additionally basically is would this
project have occurred in the absence of the carbon offsets that are
purchased from it. You know is this a project that would have happened
anyway as a normal cost of doing business? So that’s one of the
criteria that you want to look for. Is this something that above and
above business as usual, is this actually contributing to reduction of
Greenhouse gases above what would have happened otherwise.
Sean Daily: Right, which really gets back to the previous question,
about you know, how sort of real this is, or whether it was sort of put
up just for you know, again if you have something additional or if
something were to happen anyway that seems like a pretty important
Chris Page: Exactly.
Sean Daily: Well we’re going to take one more break and we’re going
to come back and when we come back, Chris I’d like to talk to you a
little bit more about on personal side about how you know you
personally became passionate about all of this and about your own life
and being green so we’ll be right back with Chris Page, Director of
Yahoo Climate and Energy Strategy.
OK, well we’re back with and
we’re talking with Chris Page at Yahoo Green she’s the Director of
Yahoo Climate and Energy Strategy. Chris I just had a couple questions
switching gears from our previous topics, to talking more personally
about your own connection to becoming passionate about carbon
neutrality. Can you tell us about that?
Chris Page: Certainly. Well much of the stay on campus here I came
from my interview, and Gary Young and David Silo were so wrestling on
the front lawn.
Sean Daily: Sumo Wrestling.
Chris Page: They were making good on a promise to the employees that
if the employees during Earth Week, could reduce their energy
consumption by 20% they would Sumo wrestle on the lawn.
Sean Daily: Did they wear the big suits?
Chris Page: They had me at the Sumo Wrestling. So in terms of my passion of my work here at Yahoo…
Sean Daily: You had you at Sumo.
Chris Page: Yes. They had me at Sumo. Exactly. So my passion for
the that we’re doing here is very much tapped into the enthusiasm from
employees, the enthusiasm from the 500 million users, you see I’m a
long time user of Yahoo mail user. In terms of, I think really what
this provide is a tremendous leverage point in terms of addressing
these issues. Our footprint is 250 metric tons; we’ve been transparent
about that. Offsetting that is the equivalent of is that turning off
the power to the Las Vegas strip for two months or taking 35,000 cars
off the road. So that’s one leverage point. Another is just the
opportunity to reach all of our users, and really spread the word about
the importance of addressing the issues of climate change and living a
green life. So just a really tremendous opportunity for me personally
I feel very honored to be here and that at an executive level yes who
has a commitment to this program and to establish this program.
Sean Daily: You know if you don’t mind me asking too Chris, I’m just
curious about in your own life you know how has this impacted you and
what sort of things do you do that you’d be willing to share with our
listening audience as far as what you’re doing to be green and
sustainable in your own personal life.
Chris Page: Certainly. I live in a relatively small apartment
that’s about ten minutes from work. Most days I hop on the Yahoo
shuttle that runs from the train station about a 10 minutes walk from
my house and take it into work.
Sean Daily: Very nice.
Chris Page: That’s one thing, is using public transit, using Yahoo
commuter options as much as possible. You know I’ve got a big history
in the back, the back country and outdoors. Before I came here I spent
a lot of time educating young people in the outdoors as part of the
National Outdoors Leadership School and working, volunteering on the
search and rescue team. So and the other part of it is for the last
six and half years before I got here this summer, I was working in
Rocky Mountain Institute, in [xx] Colorado which is founded by energy
efficiency gurus Aridan [xx] so it’s been pretty much a continuous
thread throughout my life and I’m really excited for this next chapter
Sean Daily: Have you found that your involvement with Yahoo has even taken that farther?
Chris Page: I think so, yes. Absolutely.
Sean Daily: Well great, well Chris Page has been my guest today
talking with us today about Yahoo Green and some of the recent
announcements there in carbon neutrality. She’s the director of Yahoo
Climate and Energy Strategy. You can find out more about Yahoo Green
at green.yahoo.com and I should also mention that Chris is one of the
bloggers on the [xx] I think its yodel.yahoo.com is that correct?
Chris Page: That’s correct.
Sean Daily: Great. Well Chris thanks again for being with us,
always a pleasure and would love to have you again in the future.
Chris Page: Thank you.
Sean Daily: Thanks as always to everyone listening in today.
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