It's all about transparency....
The New York Times has a pair of articles that while seemingly unrelated capture the same concept. The first article covers the FTC investigating what exactly providers of Carbon Offsets are doing to offset emissions. The lack of standards and auditing makes it difficult to know whether you make a difference. It reminds me of the challenge charities have with demonstrating how much of dollars raised go to charity, big questions about making a difference.
The second article is about an experiment by Pacific Northwest National Laboratory of the Energy Department that installed intelligent power meters that would notify home owners when achieving their target home temperature would conflict with their target energy costs. The signal would then let users choose whether to change their target temperature to achieve the cost goals. The signals led to a 10% reduction in energy use.
What both stories focus on is the value of transparency in order to drive better outcomes. If we know what is happening, that feedback leads to better decisions. Where else can transparency in our carbon consumption lead to better behavior. A label on products indicating how much oil was needed to make it and ship it? We put food labels on all our food items for nutrition and that happened in my lifetime. Maybe we'll have carbon stickers on everything we buy in a few years?