WESTFIELD, NJ — Some environmentalists march. Others recycle and even others drive electric or hybrid cars. Two local men would like resident to buy carbon, or more precisely, carbon dioxide credits.
Charlie Cacici, an ordained evangelical minister who serves as an elder at the Calvary Tabernacle in Cranford, and Joe Battiato of Woodbridge, both Wall Street veterans, formed GEC Communities about six years ago in Westfield.
GEC offers businesses and other entities the opportunity to purchase carbon credits, a policy mandated for some businesses in European countries for years and in California since 2013.
The idea is that, depending on how much carbon dioxide is emitted by a person, business or other entity, they can purchase a credit that negates — or offsets — that production.
The credit, for example, pays someone in a heavily wooded area to leave the trees to absorb the carbon dioxide, or to plant trees for the same purpose.
Battiato said entities buy carbon credits to be good citizens and to preserve the environment and rainforests.
“Many countries home to rainforests do not mandate logging companies that clear cut forests, to reforest or replant what they take,” Battiato told LocalSource in a Jan. 24 phone interview.
Cutting and moving on is the single largest source of rainforest degradation, he added.
The reasoning behind the carbon-trading system is the theory of man-made climate change, or global warming, which states that human-produced carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases are causing the earth to warm unnaturally.
According to Cacici, one carbon credit is equal to a metric ton of carbon dioxide.
The “trading system is expected to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from regulated entities by more than 16 percent between 2013 and 2020, and by an additional 40 percent by 2030,” according to the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions, a Virginia-based nonprofit organization.
At GEC Communities, Battiato and Cacici sell a metric ton of carbon dioxide for $8.99. Any business, university, person or municipality can purchase carbon credits from GEC Communities.
A 2016 press release from the Brazil’s National Institute for Space Research reported that, between August 2015 and July 2016, the Amazon jungle was deforested by 7,989 sq. kilometers.
The release also notes the rate of deforestation estimated an increase of 29 percent compared to 2015, when 6,207 sq. kilometers were lost.
While Battiato and Cacici don’t fly to South America or Africa to replace the missing trees, they use the money collected from the carbon credits they sell toward constructing beneficial projects for indigenous communities that surround rainforest deforestation.
Battiato said GEC Communities directly donates to housing, schools and hospital projects. The distribution of the funds generated from the carbon credits is overseen by both the company building the project and the government to make sure the money is used for intended purposes.
“To assure this outcome as the funds are disbursed, the company will make project specific payments rather than paying the government for general use in their treasury,” according to the GEC website.
In addition to improving communities around the world, the company also works with local municipalities here in New Jersey.
GEC meets with local towns to offer a system to make municipal buildings “green,” Battiato and Cacici told LocalSource. Through the purchase of carbon credits, GEC will help fund some environmentally friendly initiatives taken on by local municipalities.