Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The best of Social Enterprise---Bringing clean water FREE to people who need it and making polluters continents away pay for it. Does it get any better?

      A genius idea to provide FREE, CLEAN water to people in poor/developing countries by getting polluters to pay for it, whether they want to or not.  It is a positive, if unintended, consequence of Cap and Trade, a policy to reduce carbon emissions world-wide.  I encourage you to read the whole article, Clean Water at No Cost? Just Add Carbon Credits, but in a nut shell, here is how it works.
      Boiling water in, say, rural Sudan is a very carbon intensive process. It uses firewood in places where trees are in short supply and getting shorter. A company provides simple to use, but not maintenance-free water filters, that help reduce the carbon footprint in Sudan. By reducing carbon emissions in the Sudan, the company earns carbon credits that they in turn sell to polluters in India, China, the US, etc, who are polluting in excess of their alloted emissions.  The carbon credits are renewable every year, so the company has an incentive to maintain the existing water filters for free AND expand the use of them. Again, at no cost to the end-user and paid for by polluters continents away. 
     Regardless of how you may feel about the policy of Cap and Trade, this appears to be a creative way to engage in "Social Enterprise"--- help solve a social problem with market-based principles.  We need more of this type of thinking. 
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