KKL-JNF Carbon Footprint Calculator launched

by Maskil on 10 Jun 2008


Patriotism (in this case Zionism) plus carbon offsetting: an unbeatable combination. The KKL-JNF (Israel) have just launched their Carbon Footprint Calculator. Unlike the Jewish National Fund (JNF.ORG) equivalent, which I reviewed in September last year, the KKL-JNF Carbon Footprint Calculator does not calculate a personal carbon footprint, but instead utilises an average for your country of residence. The result is therefore somewhat less accurate or useful, but also much less onerous to calculate.

By the way, the Sviva Israel website offers an even more comprehensive calculator, but there the emphasis appears to be mainly educational.

Once you’ve selected your country of residence, the carbon calculator displays your total carbon footprint (tons of CO2 emitted per annum) and the number of trees you need to plant each year to offset the carbon emitted. Results include:

Country Tons of CO2 P/A Trees P/A
Israel 10.45 15
South Africa 7.44 11
UK 9.47 14
US 20.12 29

Once your tree deficit has been calculated, you can click through to donate to KKL-JNF for tree planting to offset your carbon emission (partial or full). As the donation form points out, planting trees is one of the most effective, proactive ways of stopping the greenhouse effect that is responsible for global warming. The standard JNF rate of $18 (one “Chai”) per tree prevails. A certificate can be requested if the trees are to be dedicated.

Given that the name of the game is carbon offsetting, I’m surprised that no e-certificate option is offered in addition to (or instead of) the paper certificate. The equivalent scheme offered by JNF.ORG uses a figure of $10 per tree, and dispenses with paper tree planting certificates in favour of e-certificates.

There are more cost-effective options for carbon offsetting through tree planting, e.g. one reputable organisation (which shall remain anonymous) will plant 450 trees in the developing world for your $45 donation. I imagine that KKL-JNF is not relying purely on the carbon offsetting motive, but rather on a combination of that and Zionist sentiments. Over time, however, KKL-JNF may need to look at whether it should be competing in that market.

When clicking on the button to plant trees, a separate browser tab or window is opened. This will irritate those who prefer new tabs/windows to open only when specified by the user. Unlike the primary KKL-JNF site’s tree planting function, you are not given a choice of which forest to plant in. I would have also liked to see an unequivocal statement regarding the KKL-JNF’s current position on its traditional and much criticised Pine nurse crops, and whether they have a role to play in afforestation in Israel.

The calculator also contains a link to the KKL-JNF resource page for Global Warming, much of which makes for interesting reading, e.g. the article on whether Israeli flora can survive Global Warming.

The donation form mentions that “as part of the United Nations (UNEP) “Plant the Planet” program, whose goal is to plant a billion trees, KKL-JNF committed itself to planting six million trees in Israel over the next decade”. Given that the JNF planted in the order of 250 million trees during the course of the 20th Century, that seems like something of a soft target. I’ll return to that issue in a future post.

My evaluation was done using the Mozilla Firefox 2.x browser. The site appears to render and faction best when used with the Internet Explorer browser, however.

The KKL-JNF Carbon Footprint Calculator is a useful addition to the armoury in the fight to green Israel and reverse Global Warming. In time, however, KKL-JNF may need to wrestle with more fundamental issues, rather than simply creating a link between carbon offsetting and its standard tree planting practice



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