FAQs

Why should I support Cool Effect projects?

Humans emit carbon just by living. The average American, simply by going about his or her daily life—breathing, blow-drying hair, cooking dinner—emits 17 tonnes of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere per year. While it’s important to do what we can to reduce our impact, it’s impossible for most people to reduce down to zero.

Right now, we can all take a step toward cooling the planet by supporting entrepreneurs around the world who, using technology and common sense, are cutting emissions on a larger scale. Help support these entrepreneurs to not only reduce your own impact on the Earth, but also to scale that impact so we can maintain a healthy planet for future generations.

What is a carbon credit?

A carbon credit is a unit of currency. When a carbon project proves to a group of scientists that they are keeping harmful gas from entering the atmosphere, they are rewarded with a carbon credit: 1 tonne = 1 credit. The project can then sell that credit to fund their project. In other words, credits make the carbon-project world go ’round.

How does carbon actually get reduced by donating to a project?

Projects reduce greenhouse gases in many different ways: for example, burning less fuel, substituting clean energy for coal, preventing the escape of methane into the atmosphere, and creating mechanisms (forests, grasslands) to take up CO₂ all work to reduce the amount of CO₂ emitted into the atmosphere.

How much does a carbon credit cost and why is each project priced differently?

The cost of a carbon credit depends on the project, but most costs are under $13 per tonne. That means an average American emitting 17 tonnes per year could pay approximately $200 or less to remove their negative impact on the planet.

Each project will naturally have different costs due to its location, what it’s trying to do, and what other benefits it offers. For example, a project in the United States might have higher operating costs than a project in Africa. You’ll see a cost breakdown along with the benefits and challenges of each project on the Cool Effect platform to help you decide which project you’d like to support.

Why and by how much do we have to reduce our emissions?

We all need to come together—urgently—and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The world’s top scientists agree that if we don’t curb emissions significantly, we’ll be hit with the most dangerous impacts of global climatic disruption.

The goal is to keep the temperature of the Earth from exceeding 2.0 degrees Celsius or 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit above preindustrial levels, although some groups are calling for even greater reductions. PricewaterhouseCoopers recently reported that our current trajectory will lead to warming estimated to range up to 3.7 to 4.8 degrees Celsius higher by 2100.

How do I know these carbon reductions wouldn’t have happened anyway?

Cool Effect ensures that each greenhouse gas reduction we offer on our site is fully “additional.” That means that the reduction would not have happened under any other circumstances. For example, if a project does something it’s required to do by the local government, then those reductions would have happened anyway and are not additional. Or, if it’s common practice to use efficient cookstoves in a country, then a cookstove project there cannot say its carbon reductions are additional since they would have most likely happened anyway. Additionality is a way of ensuring that carbon is actually and verifiably removed from the atmosphere. If we are going to reduce carbon overall, this is extremely important!

Who cares about this?

Over 130 million Americans are worried about the environment and want to do something to help, according to Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies research. These Americans come from all age groups and all parts of the country and support different political parties, but they all want to come together to save the planet.

What is Cool Effect’s mission?

We accelerate the most impactful planet-saving projects through cumulative actions by individuals and organizations.

Who verifies the projects on the Cool Effect site?

Cool Effect projects are triple verified. All projects meet the requirements of one of the major carbon standards—Gold Standard, Verified Carbon Standard, Climate Action Reserve, American Carbon Registry, or the United Nation’s Clean Development Mechanism. Each project is then independently verified by a third-party verifier that must also meet a set of standards, such as those required by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. Finally, Cool Effect completes its own extensive verification on each project after it has undergone these three steps. Each step is then repeated periodically to ensure continued excellence.

Are all carbon pollution reduction projects created equal?

There are over 10,000 projects around the world today and they vary in their positive impact on the Earth. As firm believers in “carbon done correctly,” we have handpicked only a small group of projects that meet the highest standards in terms of additionality, permanence, and accountability. For more on how we choose our projects, click here.

Why are you listing the challenges for every project?

Every project, no matter how good it is, has challenges. Cool Effect is the first and only platform to present the full details on each project, even if those details include what the project is working to make better. We do this so supporters can see and understand what they are supporting and make informed choices about how to best protect the environment.

Who is behind Cool Effect and what’s in it for Cool Effect?

Cool Effect is a privately funded nonprofit founded and run by individuals with years of experience in combatting global warming. Our overhead costs are covered by foundations, so we can pass the majority (90.13 percent) of all donations onto the projects. Check out Our Team page for more information.

Does Cool Effect take a commission on my financial support?

Cool Effect adds on a fee of 9.87 percent to each transaction. This fee covers credit card transaction fees of 2 to 4 percent, registry fees (where applicable), a research fee of 1.5 percent, and some Cool Effect transaction fees. Cool Effect’s overhead and most running costs are funded by private foundations, so we can pass on 90.13 percent of all financial support directly to projects.

What percentage of my donation goes directly to the projects?

Over 90% of each dollar that you donate goes directly to helping projects that verifiably reduce carbon emissions.

Cool Effect does not keep any of the credit card or registry fees. In the interest of total transparency, here’s a full breakdown of the 9.87% that goes to Cool Effect:

  • Credit Card Fee: 2%-4%
  • Registry fee (where applicable)
  • Research Fee: 1.5%
  • Remainder for Cool Effect Administration Fee
Are there any other fees associated with my donation?

Cool Effect only adds 9.87%. However, in rare cases, projects are contractually obliged to give a portion of the proceeds to certain partners who have helped them get started or reach a wider audience with their credits. That means some of your support, perhaps an additional 10 percent, may go to the project’s partners. If this is the case, you’ll find information on how much of your support is going to these partners, so you can make an informed choice about what projects you choose to fund.

What is the “Cool Effect”?

Similar to the Butterfly Effect, the Ripple Effect, and the Domino Effect, the Cool Effect is the big impact a group of individuals can have by taking small actions to cool the Earth.

Why don’t you offer refunds?

When you support a Cool Effect project, we send the money to the project and retire the carbon credits associated with your support. Once these credits are retired, they cannot be unretired.

How can my organization partner with Cool Effect?

Want to create a Cool Effect at your organization? Contact us at partners@cooleffect.org.

What is the Coollection and how is my Coollection donation divided up?

Many Cool Effect supporters want to donate to all projects at once at whatever amount (starting from $1!) they want. So, we created the Coollection, a grouping of all Cool Effect projects you can support with one simple transaction. When we receive a donation to the Coollection, we simply divide the dollar amount we receive by the total number of projects, so each project gets exactly the same amount.

How does the FLIR camera detect CO₂?

In response to comments that the FLIR camera is actually showing heat, and not CO₂, I will explain here what is actually being displayed. First of all, it is true that the camera is showing heat, but it is also true that it is showing CO₂. What is important to understand is that thermal cameras cannot see the gasses in our atmosphere very well. If they could, they wouldn’t be very good cameras. In order to see CO₂, we have to blind the camera to all that it can see, except for a very small portion of the EM spectrum. Think of it as a glass that only lets one shade of green through. This is known as a band pass filter. Since we know that CO₂ has a “shade of color” in the 4 micron range, we can use a band pass filter in that range, and this will result in images that appear brighter and darker in otherwise homogeneous areas when CO₂ is present in various concentrations. We still see heat, but the heat we see is dimmed and brightened by the presence of the CO₂. This is known as signal attenuation.