Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?
"Climate change is rapidly becoming an urgent problem facing industrialized and developing nations alike. The majority of scientists and policymakers now agree that immediate collective action must be taken to find large-scale solutions. Unfortunately, the complexity of the climate change issue and causes have prevented bold action from being taken. Moreover, although climate change is now gaining more media coverage, many people still believe the consequences of climate change are distant. This is particularly true of emerging economies where many people lack not only the motivation but also the resources to invest in climate change solutions. Even in a country like Costa Rica where environmental consciousness is relatively high, the perception that climate change is not relevant to everyday life remains widespread.
While international bodies have set up some infrastructure for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, such as the mandatory carbon emissions trading system established by the Kyoto Protocol, these mechanisms are primarily directed towards large and influential actors like national governments. Voluntary carbon trading markets and schemes have also been created and are particularly popular in Europe, but participation tends to be limited to large multinational corporations and wealthy, highly educated individuals with the knowledge and money to purchase carbon offsets for their emissions.
Carbon emissions trading has yet to reach a massive scale because of a lack of both supply and demand, especially in developing countries. While business travelers can readily purchase carbon offsets for their plane travel on the Internet, ordinary citizens often lack the awareness and resources to seek carbon offsets for their daily activities like car travel or household energy consumption. Similarly, small- and medium-sized enterprises rarely budget for carbon emissions offsets for their operations. The common perception that carbon neutrality is an ideal for governments and multinational corporations rather than individual citizens to achieve perpetuates the feeling that climate change is a distant problem for scientists and politicians."
Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!
Laura has formed an alliance of multiple institutions to create the Climate Change Friendly Program (CCF) in Costa Rica, an initiative designed to foment ordinary citizens' investment in the environment. Laura and her collaborators calculate average carbon emissions from everyday activities like car travel and determine the number of trees that must be planted to offset these emissions. Interested individuals and companies can purchase a certificate or sticker that identifies them as carbon neutral, and Laura uses the funds to replant native species in high-priority areas in Costa Rica. In the CCF's first year of operation, Laura raised US$40,000 and planted 6,500 trees, in the second year 35 000 trees were planted, all of which are monitored for three years and replaced if necessary. Laura's work is transforming environmental action in Costa Rica on two levels. First, the CCF is making carbon neutrality accessible for ordinary citizens. Currently carbon trading markets are seen as the domain of wealthy individuals or large multinational corporations wishing to boost their environmental credentials. By scaling carbon trading down to individuals and small businesses, however, the CCF is democratizing carbon emissions trading. Second, Laura is building popular consciousness about climate change as a real and important problem that affects everyone and requires collaboration to find solutions. Although the program has only completed its second year, it has already drawn attention throughout Costa Rica and beyond. Laura has begun exploring opportunities for international replication with interested environmental organizations in Central America and the Caribbean. Within the next five years, she envisions the CCF as an international initiative channeling financial resources not only towards reforestation but also towards recycling, sustainable agriculture and alternative energy sources.