Cool Effect 101

Think of us as a way to crowdfund the fight against climate change. We’re a nonprofit dedicated to bringing the best carbon projects in the world to one platform. It’s never been easier to take action for Earth.

It sure is! As a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit (Tax ID 47-5068496), it’s easy for you to make your contribution to Cool Effect a tax deductible one.

Right here. Additionally, if you are looking for Form 990, click here for 2016 and click here for 2015.

Over 90% of your donation goes straight to projects that reduce greenhouse gases, which are the major cause of climate change.

9.87% of each Cool Effect contribution is used to cover the following:

  • Credit Card Fee: 2%–4%
  • Registry Fee (where applicable)
  • Research Fee: 1.5%
  • And the remainder goes toward a Cool Effect Administration Fee.

We don’t keep any of the credit card or registry fee.

Carbon Projects

On the Cool Effect platform, a “carbon project” is any existing project that verifiably reduces the amount of greenhouse gases (GHGs) entering the atmosphere. That could be anything from supporting wind-powered energy, reducing the amount of fuel required to cook dinner and heat homes, or protecting forests that balance our CO₂ and endangered species. Once they prove they are reducing GHGs, they are awarded carbon credits, which they can sell. The proceeds go to the growth of the project. The more they grow, the more deadly gases are kept from entering the atmosphere.

A carbon credit is a financial unit of measurement that represents the removal of one tonne (1,000 kg or 2,205 lbs.) of carbon from the atmosphere.

A carbon offset is when a carbon credit compensates for emissions occurring elsewhere (via reduction, avoidance, or sequestering). Think of it as a simple way for you to counteract other less eco-friendly folks’ (or even your own) carbon emissions.

One common thread that connects all of the projects on Cool Effect is that they verifiably prevent greenhouse gases (GHGs) from reaching the atmosphere. Each project focuses on improving or developing carbon emissions reduction technology (such as cookstoves or biogas digesters). We also verify that all our projects are “additional.”

The concept of “additionality” is really important to us. This means that to qualify as a genuine carbon offset, the reductions achieved by a project need to be “additional” to what would have happened if the project had not been carried out. The project is not awarded carbon credits for simply running a “green-friendly” business—only carbon credits from projects that are “additional to” the business-as-usual scenario represent a net environmental benefit. Your donations to additionality-focused projects like ours are reasons why we can verifiably claim that the amount of carbon being emitted into the atmosphere is being reduced.

So, basically: because these projects exist, the amount of carbon emissions entering the atmosphere is less than it would have been without them.

Carbon credits are issued by one of the world’s carbon standards, such as the Gold Standard, the Verified Carbon Standard, or the Climate Action Reserve. Credits are only issued after the project has met all the requirements of the standard and been verified by a third-party verifier.

Cool Effect Carbon Projects

Every project on Cool Effect’s platform is triple-verified, starting with a review and verification from one of the world’s major carbon standards—the Gold Standard, the Verified Carbon Standard, the Climate Action Reserve, the American Carbon Registry, or the United Nations’ Clean Development Mechanism.

Once that’s complete, Global Offset Research, an independent subsidiary, verifies the project against a second set of international standards, such as those required by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. From there, we review the project internally with a long checklist that includes questions such as:

  • Has the project been issued credits by a major carbon standard?
  • Is this project additional?
  • Is the science of the project verifiable?
  • Are the project’s financials in order?
  • Is the project being run by competent, experienced management?
  • Have we visited the project site (when possible)?

Once we have satisfactory answers to all of our questions and if all these criteria are met, the project can be considered officially verified and added to the Cool Effect platform.

By at least two of the above groups, yes.

Each project is monitored by the standard, an independent auditor, and Global Offset Research each year. Global Offset Research has years of experience verifying and monitoring carbon projects and ensures that the project is proceeding as planned. Global Offset Research makes field visits to the projects as well to review their work on-site.

Our triple verification process is methodical, detailed, and time-consuming for a reason. We’ve vetted these projects using this process to ensure, without a doubt, that these projects are doing what they claim to do.

Every project, no matter how good it is, has challenges. We believe it’s important to present you with 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.

Of course! We send you quarterly updates like this on projects you’ve donated to.

Making a Donation

If a particular project appeals to you, simply select that project, pick the amount of tonnes you’d like to donate, and voilà, you’ve taken action for Earth.

If you’d rather share the wealth and donate equally over all our projects, that’s an option too. Just let us know how much you’d like to donate, and we’ll ensure that it’s distributed efficiently amongst our projects.

If you’re looking for a unique gift idea, you can also contribute to the fight against climate change on someone else’s behalf. Just visit our gift center to see how.

When you’re dealing with projects all around the world, you’re bound to run into some logistical differences. The projects featured on Cool Effect support different entrepreneurs in different parts of the world using different kinds of technology to cut emissions. These technologies also cost different amounts depending on up-front costs, maintenance costs, and the price of materials in that region of the world.

We currently accept credit cards and PayPal. You can also mail us a check or send a wire. We will confirm receipt of them all.

As of now, we do not have the ability to update credit cards in our system. For your security, we’ve chosen not to keep credit card numbers on file. If you have a new card, please create a new subscription using the card of your choice and cancel your current subscription by logging in to your account and clicking on “manage subscriptions.”

Nope! When it comes to carbon tonnes, retirement is permanent. When you support a project featured on Cool Effect, we send the money to the project. Once these projects retire the carbon tonnes associated with your support, they cannot be unretired.

You should have received an email from community@cooleffect.org with your certificate attached. If it’s not there, check your spam folder, desktop, and downloads. And if you still don’t see it, please write to us at info@cooleffect.org, and we will be happy to help get you a new one!

Every single person on the planet is capable of taking active steps to reduce their carbon footprint—from the car you drive, to the light bulbs you use, to the way you eat—even if it doesn’t involve a donation.

Gifts to Friends

You and the recipient should have received an email from gifts@cooleffect.org with your certificate attached. If it’s not there, check your spam folder, desktop, and downloads. If you still don’t see it, please write to us at info@cooleffect.org.

It’s pretty easy for us to do, just let us know you need one! Drop us a line at info@cooleffect.org, and we’ll send another your way.

Partnership Opportunities

Possibly! We partner with organizations of all shapes and sizes with all kinds of goals—from making businesses net neutral to offsetting travel, so we have tonnes (get it?) of turnkey solutions already in place. That being said, everybody’s different, so reach out to us at partners@cooleffect.org and we can tailor something specific that suits everyone’s needs. We love to collaborate, so write us today!

You bet! Hit us up at the above email (partners@cooleffect.org), and we’ll reach out to you within 24 hours, or at the very least, the next business day.

Business Opportunities

Cool Effect makes the purchase of carbon credits simple and transparent. Our FAQs will help demystify the process. If you have further questions, please write to use at business@cooleffect.org

High quality carbon offsets, also known as carbon credits, are a common, credible, and cost-effective tool for reducing climate impact. They fit well within a portfolio of other emission-reducing programs.

Carbon credits counter (“offset”) the impacts of greenhouse gas emissions caused by everyday activities. They are measured in metric tons (tonnes) of carbon dioxide equivalents (mtCO₂e). Each tonne emitted can be offset by buying one carbon credit since a carbon credit represents one tonne of emissions that was reduced somewhere else in the world. Laboratory and field testing with third party verification and site visits ensure successful calculation of greenhouse gas reductions in tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalents and enable a project to periodically issue credits. Individuals and organizations purchase these credits to cancel out the portion of their climate impact that either cannot be reduced or is too difficult or costly to reduce in another way. There are a range of carbon offsets on the market from low quality to high quality and it is very important that the purchaser go to a trusted source or do her own research to make sure only high-quality credits are purchased.

This is key to Cool Effect’s mission. Environmental Integrity refers to how well a carbon credit substitutes for a greenhouse gas reduction that would otherwise be made by the entity using the offset. In other words, the credit you purchase should be as good as what you would do yourself.

Carbon credits are an excellent means to reduce Scope 3 emissions (definition below) and can also assist in reaching corporate emission reduction goals while more substantive changes to operations are made. Carbon credits should only be purchased after other steps such as the purchase of renewable energy, conservation measures, changes to supply chains and other mechanisms to reduce emissions have been put in place.

Carbon credits are measured in metric tons (tonnes) of carbon dioxide equivalents (mTCO₂e). For each tonne mitigated, one carbon credit is issued. All credits on the Cool Effect platform are from carbon projects that have been certified by one of the major international carbon credit standards, such as The Gold Standard, Verra or the Climate Action Reserve. Cool Effect then does a deep due diligence on all projects to determine which projects are worth your support. We evaluate the implementation of the methodology and confirm that the project uses the majority of the proceeds from carbon for growth and not profit.

In purely technical terms, a credit is expected to reflect real, additional reductions of GHG emissions, and only that. However, the price can sometimes reflect whether or not additional benefits are included in your purchase. Carbon credits range from less than $1 to $45 per tonne of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO₂e). Most prices for well managed and regularly verified projects tend to be between $4 and $14 per tonne. Prices will vary based on additional benefits that are included such as project social and environmental benefits as well as project location, age of credits and project type.

If projects are selling credits to the California Compliance market, minimum prices will be high due to the scarcity of these kinds of credits. Projects of consistent quality often command higher prices too. If a project sells for less than a few dollars per tonne it is hard to see how the sale of carbon credits can have a real impact on the project operations and buyers should beware of true additionality. For this reason, unless the reason for the low price is explicitly stated, we recommend skepticism for very cheap credits. However, Cool Effect has a stable of high-quality projects offering very competitive prices.

Carbon credit projects are based on the principles of widely accepted mechanisms for reducing emissions. There are various methodologies for reducing emissions including providing clean cookstoves, preserving forests or grasslands, capturing methane or running small scale renewable energy projects. Each project offers tonnes of CO₂ equivalents for sale. One good source for learning more about various greenhouse gas reduction methodologies, many of which can generate carbon credits, is the book Project Drawdown.

Carbon credits are transformational for disadvantaged communities most harmed by climate change because they bring economic benefits, jobs and investment to poor communities. At the same time, credits can provide other co-benefits on the ground by improving family health, access to clean energy, improved diet, sanitary surroundings all while having related environmental benefits such as improvements to forest and biodiversity.

Additionality is the key to any good carbon project but assessing additionality requires more scrutiny than is often provided by a project developer or verifier.

Additionality is the concept that without income from carbon credits the project could not exist. Quality credits (credits with environmental integrity) are real, permanent, correctly calculated, independently verified, and beyond a business-as-usual scenario. A project can only be considered to be additional if:

  • it is not already legally required to do what it is doing
  • it is not profitable without revenue from carbon offsets
  • there are barriers that prevent its implementation regardless of profitability
  • It does not employ technologies that are already in common use

For this reason, every Cool Effect project is extensively reviewed by experts in carbon project verification prior to its admission to the platform. Cool Effect even makes site visits to our projects to confirm project documentation.

Cool Effect is not doing this for profit. We are not brokers or traders rather we wish to be seen as a platform to learn about and purchase carbon credits that are truly additional. Our founders, Dee and Richard Lawrence, have seen first-hand what a difference carbon finance can make. They know how a simple technology, a cookstove, in one of the poorest areas of the world can make a dramatic difference in the lives of thousands of people. They created Cool Effect, a non-profit, to shine a light on top quality projects and help companies support these projects through the purchase of carbon credits.

With a reliable market for carbon, projects can base future growth estimates on regular income. The more projects expand, the more carbon they can reduce and the more people they can help.

For purposes of carbon and climate commitments, carbon neutrality is defined as having no net greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, to be achieved by minimizing GHG emissions as much as possible and using carbon offsets or other measures to mitigate the remaining emissions. To achieve carbon neutrality under the terms of the carbon and climate commitments, all Scope 1 and 2 emissions, as well as Scope 3 emissions from air travel paid for by or through the institution and regular commuting to and from headquarters, must be neutralized.

The terms carbon neutral, climate neutral and net zero are typically used interchangeably and refer to using carbon credits to cancel out any emissions that are not able to be reduced or have not yet been reduced through other actions.

Scope 1:
These are emissions that arise directly from sources that are owned or controlled by the organization: for example, from fuels used in boilers or the vehicles that departments and facilities management own. These emissions can be avoided or reduced through improvements in efficiency and conservation.

Scope 2:
These are the emissions generated by purchased electricity consumed by the organization. These emissions can be eliminated by switching to renewable (zero carbon) sources of energy.

Scope 3:
These emissions are a consequence of the activities of an organization but occur from sources not owned or controlled by the organization. They include emissions associated with waste, water, business travel (including air travel, commuting, purchased goods and services and fuel) and energy-related activities not included in Scope 1 or 2. These emissions can be eliminated by sequestering or offsetting.

The number one reason to use carbon credits: They enable immediate action in the fight against climate change! They are also:

  • A cost-effective way to reduce emissions while other long-term investments are being implemented
    • Carbon credits cost about $4-12 on average
    • Conversely, it may cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to clean up a smokestack or install solar, and it might take years to complete.
  • A way to stimulate dispersion of new, often well proven technologies that reduce emissions all over the globe
  • A way to encourage broad participation in other carbon reducing activities by stakeholders. If you must pay for carbon credits, you become more conscious of other ways to conserve or reduce emissions.
  • A tangible proof of leadership and public commitment to a more sustainable future

Want to talk? We’d love to! Write to us at business@CoolEffect.org

CO₂ and Climate Change

Carbon pollution refers to the amount of excess carbon generated and released into the Earth’s atmosphere. Since the Industrial Revolution, this amount has increased at a rate that’s led to a disruption of the natural carbon cycle.

Offsetting occurs when you take additional action (like donating to a Cool Effect project) that negates the carbon emissions you personally produce.

Humans emit carbon just by living, with Americans emitting approximately 17 tonnes of carbon pollution per year. You likely emit more or less depending on certain factors (air travel, home efficiency) but the average is a good place to start.

Having too much of something is never good—we’re approaching (if we aren’t already there) a plateau where CO₂ levels aren’t going to provide much of an added benefit to plant life. If anything, the increased heat and changing climate could create an environment detrimental to plant growth.

Convincing someone who actively chooses to ignore science and data can be a tricky thing, so your best bet before approaching that conversation would be to read up on the issue, keep your discussion polite (unless you don’t want to be friends with them after this), and come prepared with decent rebuttals to the most common talking points. Here’s a great place to start.

Visit our Why Carbon page with information on carbon emissions for the individual.

Still have a question? We love to chat. Write to us at info@cooleffect.org