Issue 16 : 12 February 2006  

Hello <$firstname$>

Welcome to the first Communique of 2007. What a start to the new year it’s been: we’ve had a year’s worth of news on the climate front already! Planet Earth is an exciting place to be right now…

In this issue:

Try the Direct Action Offset approach!
Reduce your car's CO2 cloud: buy O fuel
Sign two important emissions petitions
Mission possible: support a carbon obese friend

Direct Action Offset

I stayed overnight in my old college last week. They’ve replaced most of their light bulbs now (after all, we are talking Cambridge, so we’re supposed to be bright). But you can imagine my distress finding one of the old tungsten bulbs lighting the toilet of the building where I was staying.

Now picture my mischievous delight on realising I just happened to have a nice compact instant start Philips 60W equivalent energy-efficient bulb in my bag. At 6am the following morning, I tiptoed into the loo, swapped the bulb over, and took the old one home with me for disposal.

Mission accomplished!

When you donate £10 to charity they get excited if you tick the Gift Aid box to enable them to reclaim the tax, therefore turning your £10 into £14. Direct Action Offset (DAO) is the equivalent of a £2.50 gift being multiplied not by 1.4 but TENFOLD – the college will save £25 on its electricity bill. At the same time I can mark the gesture down as 160kg of CO2 avoided. Every six bulbs I give away avoids one tonne of toxin, costs £15 and saves £150. I like this self-administered charity.

Some of you might mock and say yeah but a student is bound to nick it. Do you know – I don’t care too much who uses it to save energy. Some might say ah but the light in the toilet is only used for a very few hours a day. Think again. The Bakelite bulb holder was charred from where the light had obviously been left on all night – frequently.

This covert action was, of course, inspired by the video: Eric Prydz Vs Floyd: Proper Education. It’s essential viewing.

Be sure to switch to full screen, turn the volume up, and enjoy.

Back to top

Buy O fuel

Fellow Texans – I think shrinking our petrol habit by 20% is a great idea!

We can do it tomorrow. We don’t need to wait 10 days – certainly not 10 years – to tick this 20% box. For some people, trading to a car that does just 30mpg would be a 20% improvement! Many can halve their fossil dose right now, no problem.

My family car-carbon is on track to be 20% lower than last year by a combination of fewer trips, smarter driving, and blending 10% of recycled chip fat into our VW Sharan people carrier, which can now do 400 people miles per gallon of fossil diesel.

Find your nearest biodiesel filling station at:

(We went for recycled vegetable oil by the way – and yes, it smells fine!)

Government incentives for mass biofuel production are badly misguided: there’s no technical fix for fossil fuel abuse, nor can we grow our way out of trouble. I don’t see biofuels as a future solution personally, but I’m happy to put old chip fat to good use in the meantime.

Back to top

Emissions petitions

There are two new petitions of note this month.

The first is perfect for Communique readers because you already know your personal carbon cloud. It asks Tony Blair to keep a watchful eye on his and his Cabinet’s individual carbon wastelines… BUT – you can only sign it once you have estimated your own tonnage. Cute huh?

402 signatures was the count at the time of writing. Many votes are from highly influential people – everyone counts – so keep signing. Personal carbon disclosure is the thing.

Please also add your support for the other big carbon petition, if you haven’t already:

To help your friends and family calculate their own carbon clouds, guide them to the popular MSN carbon cloud estimator at:

The site calculates your primary carbon cloud or shadow. Very roughly this will be around half your total carbon.

It may seem insignificant that YOU sign this petition – but it is most important that you DO! Thanks!

Back to top

Cloudy language

The words we choose make a huge difference. Does a purple carbon shadow or carbon cloud evoke more meaning for you than a ‘carbon footprint’? ‘Carbon offset’ could be ‘carbon off-put’. (We put off the day of reckoning.) ‘Carbon neutral’ could be ‘Carbon paid up’. And zero carbon – well, we don’t have much honest use for that term yet do we.

Back to top

Carbon fixation hits the headlines

It seems like all corners of the media-world are enjoying a healthy dose of carbon and climate fixation. Are we witnessing a renewed interest in our common future? A gradual outbreak of common sense and renewed hope? Whatever it is, this is good news!

Back to top

Planet Positive

I am delighted to tell you about a cool new collective of carbon reduction enthusiasts:

Back to top

It is NOT too late

If you think it is, then you’ve stepped down from a leadership role. Failure is not an option thanks – not for my kids.

You might be surprised to hear that I think all this ‘greener than thou’ mud-slinging every time someone flies anywhere is unhealthy. What matters isn’t what one person is doing – unless that one person happens to be YOU! (Tony you really should have got onto my carbon couch last year!) Turning the media spotlight on ourselves wouldn’t go amiss. Let those without carbon cast the first stones!

“Whatever you do may seem insignificant, but it is most important that you do it.”
Mahatma Gandhi

Back to top

There’s no denying

More vast chunks of the Berlin Wall of denial have come crashing down before our eyes in recent weeks. The climate of awareness has tipped. Now there’s little more to say – we just have to do something!

Sky, ITV and BBC have all let the carbon cat out of the bag. World leaders who previously seemed to think we wanted them to tell us it was ‘okay to party on’ are starting to glimpse just how popular courageous, low-carbon leadership could be. So if the people lead, the leaders will follow!

I heartily recommend George Marshall’s site on climate denial:

Back to top

People power

Never underestimate the power of one: what enormous influence one person can have! MPs need only receive a small handful of thoughtful letters for them to sit up and take notice – have you written to yours recently? Keep it short, sharp and sympathetic. They generally want to do the right thing. Go visit them too. They need to hear your carbon clear voice.

Tell them you demand Contraction and Convergence – see this awesome short movie:

Back to top

Light bulb moment

This is a story about freedom of choice. An illuminating tale of two light bulbs.

On my left, we have the following items – and no change:
One big power station, six broken old-style 60W lamps, and 200 one-kilo bags of CO2.

On my right:
One power station one fifth the size, one exhausted EE bulb, 40 1 kilo bags of CO2 and – here’s the best bit – five crisp £5 notes in change.

Which one do you think we’ve been choosing?

Don’t agonise about the waste disposal of the 80 grams or so weight of the glass and metal of the old bulb in landfill – the waste you can see is 1/2000 of the cloud you cannot.

Contemplate the 160 kilos of invisible CO2 that will be dumped over the lifecycle – causing far more damage – for each bulb you don’t replace now.

As well as some funky energy efficient bulbs there are also some bright new LEDs now available from:

Mention the Carbon Coach to save 10% off your order. The LED bulbs may not be cheap, but they’re a bright buy. Savvy shopping of the highest order!

Back to top

More extinctions predicted

The old style GLS tungsten light bulb is fast becoming a collectors’ item. Ultra-thirsty old cars watch out – residual values are not about to rise. The carbon obese – in whatever guise – is going seriously out of fashion.

It’s high time to disinvest in high carbon shares, and to invest in the low carbon economy.

As one giant party comes to an end, the low-carbon party is just getting started. It’s an altogether cooler party!

Back to top

Shed some hi-carb assets soon

This is one of my less ethical tips! Disposing of your serially gas guzzling home or car is not going to save the planet, it just shifts the problem somewhere else. But it will save YOU money, if you sell up now before values tumble. Warn a friend!

Back to top

Triple your offset

This is really catching on. If you absolutely positively must fly, then consider paying double or triple the offset. There is logic to this. It’s not cheap, so it makes you or whoever is paying think twice (or three times) about flying. The total impact from flying is reckoned to be almost three times worse than the CO2 alone so it makes sense to try to fully cover your air tracks.

Back to top

Marlow’s low carbon community

A small but growing band of my neighbours have recently estimated their carbon cloud and are getting serious on the causes of carbon crime. Last week we had a Marlow car-free day. If steam were purple you would have seen it coming out of the ears of angry gas-guzzling car drivers!!

Community makes a stand:

Carbon consciousness is catching on, and eco-chic is all the rage!

Back to top

The gift of a future

An Inconvenient Truth – the Al Gore film was released on DVD on 26 December. BUY IT!

Buy two and give one to a friend. Buy three and give two away. My good friend John Willoughby came up with the idea that those who can afford it should buy a couple of extra copies and send them to someone we love and care about. Our children are worth it.

Back to top

Love heavy smokers more

Some of my friends are recovering carbon addicts. It’s always tough to smell their smoke and enjoy their fires and bright lights… while I’m recovering too! It’s fascinating that the first tiny reductions in their big carbon cloud are – for them – the toughest by far.

We may piously think we are doing well with our smaller feet. But when you are caught within the frantic chase to get on, to live life, and to pay the electricity bills each month, saving energy can seem an indulgent distraction.

Back to top


Support a carbon obese friend

This month, help a carbon obese friend and gently help them take their scary first step on to the low-carb ladder and celebrate every drop of CO2 savings they make.

They need help. So be kind to them.

Download a PDF of my article in the latest Chic Chat magazine

This year I want to make it all more beautiful. To trust more. To help more. And to judge less. I hope you will help hold me to it!

Be more visible in what you do, and for who you are. If each and every one of us just gets on with cleaning up our own act, coming off the carbon addiction in our own back yard – the world takes care of itself! Kinda liberating!

I’ll close with the wonderful quote that Christina Robert, the accidental ecologist, chose for her page in February’s issue of Easy Living:

“The reward of a thing well done is to have done it”
Ralph Waldo Emerson

So long, and let’s do it.

Dave Hampton
The Carbon Coach


Drop me an email
Visit the Carbon Coach website
Read previous issues of Communiqué
Take a look at my blog