Zerofootprint's Emissions Calculator Launched in Toronto - 26 February 2008

Science for Peace, through its Global Issues Project has become the 55th partner of Zerofootprint Toronto.

On 26 February, Zerofootprint’s Community Partner Program held an official launch, with Toronto’s Mayor David Miller speaking to an audience of Zerofootprint partners, Zerofootprint staff and the press. The Mayor noted that his council had voted unanimously to make Toronto the first participating city, adding that unanimity is rare on city councils. The aim is to be the world’s leading city in addressing climate change and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The goal is to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases by 80 percent by the year 2050, and he said that the city was budgeting to $1 billion toward this in the next five years. Mr Miller emphasized that the cost of the Zerofootprint partnership to the City of Toronto is nil.

Zerofootprint is an organization founded and led by Dr Ron Dembo, and the calculator (see below) is its latest and most ambitious product. Zerofootprint boasts 15 workers in the Toronto area, but there are also branches in Boulder (Colorado), Seattle and elsewhere, and Dembo is building a worldwide network. The goal is to mobilize and empower large groups of individuals, through their businesses, non-governmental organizations, and universities and promote collaboration among them and governments, especially municipal governments. Working together, through partnering organizations, individuals pledge specific actions to reduce their collective carbon and ecological footprint. This is done by harnessing the power of social networking, the Internet and software.

What the program offers is an interactive calculator, which anyone can access at www.toronto.zerofootprint.net. This website enables its users to assess their own carbon footprint, to compare it with average footprints for people in other cities and to plan to reduce their footprint. The footprints are measured in tonnes of CO2 per person per annum. The calculator offers a wide range of lifestyle options, for example in travel, food consumption, home energy usage, and each choice yields a numerical result, since it computes the reductions that a selected option would bring about. Users of the website can create their own portfolio within it, which will keep track of their progress.

Members of Science for Peace who want to use this website should first register and log-in, then click on “my communities”, followed by “my group”; then search for the “Science for Peace” icon in the right-hand tool bar and click on that.

Dr Dembo said he has been working on this project for three years, and that collaboration was an absolutely central element of the approach of Zerofootprint, essential if it is to make a real difference. Deborah Kaplan, Vice-chair of Zerofootprint, stated that about 20,000 individuals are presently in the system. Their plan is to create many community partnerships in cities throughout the world.

Members of Science for Peace are urged to follow suit and to persuade their friends, collaborators and extended families to do the same.**

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