08/09/2016

By Alex Germanis, CEO of Pure Leapfrog

Alex Germaniss photo of Venice from a plane

As I fly over Venice, the irony is not lost on me. I work for a charity that is dedicated to addressing climate change. We do so by supporting communities to develop renewable energy projects that deliver social benefit. Yet here I am in a plane that is guzzling gallons of fossil fuels at a rate of knots. By the time we land, me and 106 other passengers will have made a purchasing decision to travel, that collectively will have generated around 380 tonnes of carbon emissions. A contribution towards the 2% of the global emissions relating to flying. One small step towards causing sea level rise that will see places like Venice go under water. Less fortunate people like the people of Vanuatu will not only see their home towns transform into new homes for sea creatures but their entire island state will disappear.

It's easy to place blame on others for this (it's the airlines responsibility to clean up or the Chinese are building a coal fired power station every week) or feel powerless about it (I'm just one of 7 billion people). Yet this is a collective problem that also requires individual action.

So what am I doing about it? At Pure Leapfrog we provide an easy way to take action. I've gone through our website, calculated the footprint of my journey and purchased voluntary carbon offsets. These will help to mitigate the emissions caused by my travel. The money will go towards supporting some amazing projects around the world such as the deployment of clean cookstoves in post conflict South Sudan which not only reduces the effects of climate change but also has as swathe of health benefits for mothers and infants by eliminating indoor air pollution. In purchasing a carbon offset you are simultaneously supporting the dedicated team at Leapfrog to develop other clean energy projects in the UK and internationally.

To be clear, I am doing this because the projects being supported are additional (wouldn't happen without the carbon finance) and have a measurable impact and support people from Venice to Vanuatu. I also realise that this doesn't mean we shouldn't be taking action elsewhere. There is very much an urgent need to put pressure on the governments who work for us, the corporates we buy from and our friends, families and colleagues to join us in doing their bit. Airlines certainly need to step up their game and accelerate their sustainability programmes (there are some exciting ones underway) as progress is not happening fast enough. Governments have their part to play in creating the incentives to do so. But I can't blame the airline I'm flying with for offering me the chance to travel. I booked my ticket and it has allowed me to spend precious time with my Italian family for which I am extremely grateful.

And there are plenty examples of people going out of their way to make the change we want to see. My route back to the UK takes me over London Array - when constructed was the world's largest offshore wind farm. As I write 175 wind turbines situated in the Thames Estuary are generating enough power for half a million UK homes per year. Part of our move towards a clean energy future.

The view from the window is a stark reminder for me that for every action I take I have a choice to be responsible for its effects. Here I choose to vote with my wallet and do something beyond what is required or mandated. I invite you to join me in doing the same.

Alex Germanis

CEO at Pure Leapfrog

To support clean energy projects which deliver benefits to local communities, either email me at [email protected] or go online where you can offset your emissions.

And don't forget you can also get stuck in to your local energy project! If you're not sure where to start let us know and we can either point you in the right direction or provide the tools so you can get started.