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How does Compensate work?

Compensate's goal is to make carrying your share of climate responsibility as easy as it is to pay a VAT. Almost every time we consume something, we also generate emissions. But nothing justifies this dumping of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. That is why we should be able to pay, as a part of our everyday actions as consumers, for more carbon dioxide to be absorbed from the atmosphere than our emissions generate.

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Direct allocation of funds to fix the problem

Compensate can be connected to almost any consumer product. For example, think of a mobile application for things like food delivered to your home or a taxi application. We know the emissions these services generate. When a Compensate button is added to the app, and the button is always on by default, the consumer does not have to do anything extra to repair the climate damage they have caused. However, if the consumer does not want to compensate, the Compensate function can always be deactivated or removed.

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This is the Compensate system in all its simplicity: a company that uses Compensate in their services or products pays the accumulated CO2 compensation money, in full, to the Compensate Foundation which in turn buys emission reductions from certified carbon sequestration projects. Thus, the Foundation does not finance its own activities with compensation payments. The Foundation's account is entirely public: anyone can see the account balance and the amount and targets of funds used. Without real transparency, we will not have the people's trust.

However, there is still uncertainty surrounding carbon sequestration. That's why we always make a large, at least double, overcompensation. We also work closely with the scientific community to identify the most cost-effective ways to bind carbon dioxide. In the future, this will require, for example, more accurate measurement of afforestation projects and the introduction of new technologies. The most important thing is to accomplish the greatest possible carbon capture with the accumulated funds.

Repairing the damage comes with a real cost

How many of us know how much emissions we generate by driving from Helsinki to Lapland, heating a home with oil for one year or flying to the Canary Islands? Very few. And when we search for information, it's usually hard to find and understand; often there's just talk about so and so many tonnes of carbon dioxide - that is, the weight of the invisible greenhouse gas. How many of us will understand any of this?

How can we expect people to act responsibly when clear information is not readily available? We measure our daily steps, sleep quality and blood pressure so that we can improve our performance and understand the factors contributing to our well-being. But with regards to emissions, we do not have this kind of information available; even if it could be the key to the fate of humankind.

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That's why Compensate's goal is to offer information on emissions, in the way people do understand - that is, in euros. This will also help us understand what the cost of repairing the damage really is. And it may also make it easier for people to realize that if they do not pay for the damage themselves, someone else will have to. Who can even think it's alright to cause damage and leave it to others to repair it? Of course, the worst thing is that right now no one is paying. Unfortunately, that is the world where we live now. That world will cost us more than we care even to imagine.

Compensation services have been around for quite some time; it’s just that people haven’t used them. The main reason for this is that these services are not widely known. Many individuals also fail to compensate because it is easy to forget, too cumbersome or people do not trust the service provider for some reason. That's why it's critical to create a system where compensation happens almost automatically as a part of the usual consumer actions - we should always be able to take responsibility for the damage we cause.

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Integrating responsibility into consumption

The auto industry generates emissions. The production of electric cars generates even more emissions. We need to be responsible and aware of that, too. The purpose of Compensate is to make sure that when a consumer orders a new car, they can also choose to compensate, just like adding a car accessory from a list. A single price is paid for the vehicle, but there is a direct channel from the car dealership to the Foundation that directs the paid compensation into carbon dioxide capture projects. When the customer gets their car, it can be fitted with a Compensate sign to show that the car's emissions have been compensated, to can show others we have acted responsibly and encourage them to follow our example. If we are to stop climate change, we need to have people involved.

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Compensate could also be connected to car insurance. Insurance companies know the volume of your vehicle's engine and can find out the distance you have driven in a year. This creates information on the emissions that can be directly compensated. Taking responsibility should be no more complicated than this. Banks already know the amount of emissions generated per euro spent on average, depending on the companies and service providers in the receiving end of payments. Therefore, the Compensate Foundation is looking to launch Compensate credit cards, in cooperation with banks. It's crucial that every one of us starts using money to take more carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere than our consumption releases. To do this, all we need is to know the contents of the average grocery shopping cart and big enough overcompensation for emissions of those contents. If we can have the major credit card companies and banks offer Compensate as part of everyday consumption, the global change would be remarkable.

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A standard for responsibility

Raising carbon taxes is often presented as the one solution to climate change control. However, this is a politically tricky move and, as the example of France demonstrates, even worthy goals may turn against themselves in a democracy. Instead, it would not be as hard to demand fuel distributors to offer their customers the option of compensation. This would not cost taxpayers anything and would be a relatively small investment for fuel distributors. It would also not provoke the yellow vests to take to the streets - instead, it could help change people's mindsets. As long as we create emissions, should we not clean up our mess as well? If we have the freedom to choose our actions, do we not also have the responsibility for the consequences of those actions? In the future, the Compensate logo will signal to consumers that the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has not been increased. For this, we want to create a standard that people will know. If companies only build their own compensation mechanisms, they won’t become as familiar to consumers as a trademark encountered on various companies' products and services.

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It's time to take action

The world has changed a lot in a short time. More and more people feel that we finally must act - for me, the most impressive examples of this change are the school strikes and climate marches of young people. The level of ambition amongst companies has also increased, and it seems the time is ripe for change. I set up Compensate so we could all do more. Taking action must be easy, reliable and, above all, inspiring. Heaping guilt on people and moralizing will not save us. We can only succeed if we take action and invite others to join us.

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Let's do this properly and show the world that we still have opportunities to succeed in halting climate change. Whether you are a private person or a business representative, join the world of change. If people do not stop climate change, no one else is going to do it for us.