News announcement from TerraPass

  • October 18, 2011
  • News
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Just in time for the creation of California’s regulatory cap-and-trade market, TerraPass and Bank of America Merrill Lynch announced a partnership last week which marks an important milestone for TerraPass.

Under our partnership, TerraPass will source and deliver verified farm-based carbon offsets over the next 9 years which Bank of America Merrill Lynch has the option to purchase. Unlike offset purchases we’ve discussed in the past (like this one and this one (.pdf), this sale is not part of a voluntary emission reduction strategy by a major corporation. Rather, it is quite specifically aimed at getting carbon offsets into the hands of regulated emitters under California’s upcoming cap-and-trade system.

We are as proud of our ability to provide offsets to regulated emitters, as we are of our ability to provide offsets to individuals and companies working to address their emissions in a voluntary fashion.

We really are.

This is because we believe that mandatory greenhouse gas emission controls are absolutely required to bring emissions down to a level which will at least allow the earth’s population to adapt to its changing conditions. And we believe that mandatory greenhouse gas emission controls are best implemented, and most politically palatable, when they allow money to flow to the least expensive options first.

And that’s the business we are in. Helping to implement near-term greenhouse gas reduction projects which are as cost-effective as possible. We are not in the business of compliance emissions trading.

Emissions trading is a serious business, as it should be. It is highly regulated (moreso now than ever) and requires substantial financial sophistication, not to mention substantial financial reserves. Bank of America Merrill Lynch has been in this business elsewhere in the world for many years, and provides a fantastic yin to our yang. Or yang to our yin.

Either way, we are very excited about this partnership. It marks what we hope to be a dramatic increase in the demand for carbon offsets. That means there will be more money available for emission reduction projects. That’s the future we hope to bring about, and this agreement marks a great big step in the right direction.

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  1. KartaPurkh Khalsa - October 19, 2011

    Just remember the story of Br’er Rabbit and the Tar Baby. Some filth is bound to rub off from this embracde!

  2. Betsy Germanotta - October 19, 2011

    After all of the controversy swirling around Bank of America, I’m really disappointed in this partnership. I would think that you could have found one more in keeping with your philosophy.

  3. Ian - October 19, 2011

    Very disappointing that terrapass decided to sleep with the devil; the personification of everything that’s wrong with this world. Everybody is selling out to the money.

  4. Vicki Soles - October 19, 2011

    Your partnering with Bank Of America sickens me. Anyone with an ounce of sense knows one of the greatest problems in the US is the corporate greed that BEGAN with national banks. An avid supporter of keeping things green and working very hard to reduce my carbon footprint I had long admired Terra Pass and have may family members and friends who have donated to you as they have far more money than I who barely scrapes by. Sorry to say….no more support for Terra Pass.

  5. Echo - October 19, 2011

    Wow is this news so incredibly fails to meet my hopes and expectations for TerraPass. I am truly disappointed. BoA has repeatedly engaged in exploitative acts – both on a national stage and with individual citizens . To connect environmental stewardship with an exploitative culture is likely to result in negative consequences.

  6. Van Maqileo - October 19, 2011

    Can you say more about the nature of the partnership? What is Bank of America Merril Lynch doing specifically in the partnership? In the statement above you say, “Under our partnership, TerraPass will source and deliver verified farm-based carbon offsets over the next 9 years which Bank of America Merrill Lynch has the option to purchase.”
    Haven’t they always had the option to purchase offsets from Terrapass just like the rest of us? Please clarify.

  7. jerry - October 19, 2011

    Very sorry you are sleeping with the enemy! I will now unsubscribe.

  8. Margaret - October 19, 2011

    Seriously, what the heck? I mean, I understand if this is the only way to broadly manage these carbon offsets, but I don’t think *anyone* should be stating that they “are PROUD to be partnered with Bank of America” right now. (Or ever.)

  9. chongakat - October 19, 2011

    I’ve thought so highly of your program and recommended TerraPass to so many friends. I am sickened by your association with BofA. I was about to buy offsets for my upcoming flight but won’t be buying through TP now.

  10. lee - October 19, 2011

    wow, i’ve got to agree with all the other commenters here — getting in bed with BofA is not something to be bragging about. now i could be convinced that this arrangement is a necessary evil in today’s world, and the pluses far outweigh the negatives. but you really need to make THAT case, rather than just singing the praises of this partnership.

  11. Michael C - October 19, 2011

    Wow did you guys sell-out! How could you even conceive of partnering with Skank of America? I hate to say it, but I feel like I now need to sever ties with Terrapass. Too bad, because I really did respect what you were doing. Not any more.

  12. Jacque - October 19, 2011

    Outrageous!!!!!!! I use to support your org now that you have chosen to hope in bed with big banks and wall street it’s clear your ends don’t justify the means. You can forget my support as well as my pocket book. I stopped supporting banks before the bailouts I choose to support my local member owned credit union.

  13. Anonymous - October 19, 2011

    Side note – just to be clear, when you get offsets from TerraPass it’s a purchase and not a donation. TerraPass is a for-profit venture and not a non-profit.

  14. bernie brown - October 19, 2011

    NO GOOD CAN COME OF THIS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  15. Erin Craig - October 19, 2011

    Betsy, I really appreciate your comment. We have been working with Bank of America Merrill Lynch for quite a long time on this arrangement, and have worked with them on smaller transactions in the past. While I very much understand, and even find myself at times, painting the entire financial services industry with a broad not-too-pretty brush, doing so takes a great number of good people doing good work and colors them poorly.
    Our experience with the carbon emissions group at BAML has shown them to be a very steady, very thorough team working all over the world to support emission reduction projects. They have put funds at risk early on in the new regulatory markets as those markets have been created, and have continued with investments through some very turbulent times. That’s why we think they are indeed in keeping with our philosophy.
    Thank you again for sharing your thoughts.

  16. Diane - October 19, 2011

    I am horrified that terra pass would join forces with the likes of B o A. They are one of the major reasons the economy is what it is right now. And you say emissions trading is well-regulated? Nothing else in our economy lately has been well regulated enough that firms like B o A can’t find a way to exploit it for their profit and someone else’s loss. If this sticks I’m done with terra pass.

  17. Erin Craig - October 19, 2011

    Hi Ian,
    Thanks for taking the time to comment! I am not sure whether you think the entire financial services industry emanates from the underworld, or whether it’s B of A in particular, but in either case I can say confidently that we have not sold out to anyone, devil or otherwise. TerraPass is now and always has been an independent venture-backed company, and our arrangement with Bank of America does not change that at all.
    We made a decision a couple years ago to help develop as many emission reduction projects as we had staff and funding sources to work with. Our retail funding sources – our wonderful individual and business customers – are very important to us, but we knew we could create more projects if there were people or companies willing to pay for those emission reductions.
    So we decided to serve a broader marketplace so we could channel more money to more projects. Even if that means taking money from banks and emitters. After all, they are the ones that have the money, and we can put it to good use.
    I respect and hear where you are coming from. We want to have a big impact. This is the way to do that.
    Thanks again for your comment!

  18. Erin Craig - October 19, 2011

    Hi Vicki,
    Thanks for taking the time to comment, and for being a TerraPass supporter in the past, if not in the future. See my comments above regarding the overall financial services industry… I am as disappointed and sickened and angry as anyone at the abuses, the poor oversight, the ridiculous sums of money which were created out of nothing and then taken from the wrong people.
    But we still need banks. They perform a function in our economy that we cannot be without. In a regulated carbon market, they perform the service of providing regulated emitters with a known, predictable budget for their compliance costs. That way, they can decide how much to invest in efficiency (for example) or to expand their core business, instead of holding aside huge sums of money just in case emission allowances get very expensive at the moment they need to buy them. That is a real service, and it happens every day related to other items – like an airline who wants certainty in their fuel prices so they know how much to charge for a ticket.
    That certainty is provided by financial services companies. It’s a risk management service they provide to people with expenses which might vary widely. Having that service is a good thing.
    So while I feel common angst with this industry, I am also trying to be clear about how to get where our mission is going. And to do that, we need to work with banks.
    Thanks again for commenting.

  19. Dan - October 19, 2011

    any transaction with this wicked money hungry bank tarnishes terrapass. This company is so vile and wickey, I’ll now end my relationship with terra pass as it shows that you were a fraud.

  20. James - October 19, 2011

    I’m sorry. You have done good work and I was proud to have your bumper sticker on my car. You will be compromised, and it won’t take long.

  21. Vicki Soles - October 19, 2011

    I received a response form Terra Pass with an explanation; the need to use banks etc…..No explanantion as to why they chose the most egregious bank…………From the letters I am reading it appears we all have the same feelings of disgust. Will bid you adieu Terra Pass.

  22. Bye Bye - October 19, 2011

    BoA? Despicable. It’s over, TerraPass.

  23. Tom Arnold - October 20, 2011

    Tom here, co-founder of TerraPass.
    I no longer work at TerraPass, but I’ll join the discussion.
    I like the comments, so keep them coming, its great to see readers commenting on the direction of TerraPass. In the days of so many retracting from being engaged or even talking about the climate crisis, all the comments above give me hope that a slice of America is still fighting the good fight.
    I will, perhaps predictably, defend TerraPass here, with a simple argument — the climate crisis needs capital. Yes some banks are bozos, and yes the leadership of many corporations have a lot to answer for. But banks aren’t monolithic, and they often contain small groups of people that are quite genuine about their work and getting more projects up and running that contribute to the renewable energy or carbon reductions that we desperately need. We can either work with the small group of change agents or throw the baby out with the bath water.
    TerraPass obviously works with the former. Its not going to be popular, and I expect a lot of people to be upset, just as many people were upset that we worked with Ford, Sam’s Club, etc. Claims were made at the time that these partnerships would change our values or alter our mission. They didn’t, and this one won’t either.

  24. Alex - October 20, 2011

    Here’s to institutionalizing and bringing the carbon markets to the mainstream. You need a big balance sheet to do that.
    Part of the reason the House-approved carbon bill didn’t make it further was the fear of derivatives and financial engineering, mechanisms that, used appropriately, are strong tools to avoid pollution.

  25. michael - October 21, 2011

    Well, I am not all that enamoured with B of A myself. They are just as guilty as Lehman and Citibank and thier ilk for much of the financial crisis we are in right now.
    However, one must keep in mind the wisdom of Lau Tsu: A journey of 1000 Li (about .33 miles/li) must begin with a single step. There are no free lunches in this world and it will take money to begin the process of quantifying how much it costs to engage in any cap and trade scheme or any other major effort to reduce carbon emissions.
    BoA has funding and accounting skills to help with that endeavor. There are good folks in BoA who are no douubt just as disgusted as the rest of us at the mess their employer has caused. I am sure they will continue to work behind the scenes to change the corporate mind set if they can.
    If it is any consolation I know that in the 1980’s BoA had a fleet of Methanol (M85) powered vehicles in California to help reduce the use of fossil fuels. They are evil but not 100% evil necessarily.

  26. Gordon Cruikshank - October 21, 2011

    Big Questions. Why deal with one of the biggest criminal banks?
    Let’s work small with credit unuons.
    BofA should burn in ……..
    As I see it, the leaders belong in jail.
    In time, there is no valuation for the suffering of the 99%.
    Thank you B of A and Goldman Sucks.

  27. Vicki Soles - October 21, 2011

    Understand your thoughts Tom and yes, it is gratifying to see the handful commenting here as it lends itself to the hoep factor that people care. I care immensely and will continue to do my own thing as the need for capitol is one thing but BANK OF AMERICA?????? Give me a break! Try doing a bit of research and talk to people who have worked there (NOT the tellers at your local banks). They are the epitome of evil, thievery, and corruption….the absolute worst if you will. So, sorry ……not convinced; won’t change my mind.

  28. Anonymous - October 21, 2011

    There are some good prostitues as well, just falling on hard times and need to feed their kids. If I were female and decent looking (of which I’m neither), I could stand on the corner of 2nd ave here in town and probably make more money than I do at my current job. But some things just aren’t worth the money. So, Tom, your argument is worthless, B of A as a whole is corrupt, and TerraPass partnering with them casts a dark shadow over TerraPass. I’ve left TerraPass because of this, but just wanted to come back on and reply to you and TerraPass that this is still wrong. I’d rather buy a gas guzzler, go back to incandescents, stop recycling and all than to be affiliated with B of A in any way. So… so long TerraPass, I won’t allow you to tarnish my reputation along with yours.

  29. Pat O'Connell - October 23, 2011

    Climate change isn’t going to be reversed just by committed individuals reducing their carbon footprints. It’s going to take capital and corporate commitment and it has to make sense financially. Good for TerraPass to recognize this in their partnership with BAML.

  30. Vicki Soles - November 18, 2011

    Though my earlier comments were to the negative regarding the partnering with BofA I will say now……a very good friend and environmentalist that knows far more than I….explained to me that regardless of which bank…..any bank that is willing to provide funding can only be a positive. Perhaps we all reacted without fully informing ourselves?