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PopOffsets is a web-based, carbon offsetting project of Population Matters, (formerly known as the Optimum Population Trust), a charity devoted to offsetting CO2 emissions by enabling individuals and organisations to fund rights-based family planning schemes, health programs, relationship and sex education worldwide.
Founded in 1991, Population Matters is a leading UK campaigning charity concerned with the effects of current world population growth on the natural environment, particularly regarding climate change. It advocates for population stabilisation through improved access to rights-based family planning schemes. OPT recently commissioned a research paper entitled ""“Fewer Emitters, Lower Emissions, Less Cost”"" which indicates that addressing unmet needs for family planning is the most cost-effective way of reducing CO2 emissions and climate change – possibly less than one third of the cost of other technological fixes – without any environmental downsides. OPT estimates that every $7 (£4) spent on family planning saves one tonne of CO2. A similar reduction would require a $13 (£8) investment in tree planting, $24 (£15) in wind power, $41 (£31) in solar energy and $92 (£56) in hybrid vehicle technology.
Launched on 3 December 2009, just days before the Copenhagen Climate Summit, PopOffsets is the first and only carbon offsetting scheme worldwide investing its funds in rights-based family planning schemes, health programs, relationship and sex education. OPT considers that investing in family planning services is vital for environmental sustainability, with particular regards to women who have little or no access to these services. Every year there are 80 million unintended pregnancies in the world, which could be averted by making sex education and family planning services accessible to everyone. Details of PopOffsets were circulated to every British MP.
How it works
The PopOffsets web-project offers a step-by-step guide which enables contributors to make online donations to OPT, in order to support rights-based family planning schemes. Contributors can calculate their estimated annual amount of CO2 emissions in their country of residence, using a “CO2 calculator”. The calculator divides the total amount of the chosen country’s CO2 emissions by the number of its citizens. The contributor can then decide to offset his/her annual CO2 emissions or to opt for a “one-off” amount, by determining the exact amount of CO2 that he/she is wishing to offset.
The funds gathered from online donations are distributed between rights-based family planning schemes, contraceptive services and supplies, sex and relationship education and health programs. OPT aims to use the majority of its funds to meet the needs of over 200 million women worldwide who do not have access to family planning services.
The launch of the Pop Offset project on December 3 2009 received international media coverage from both print and broadcast media outlets, including in The Guardian, The Times, The Sunday Express, The Telegraph, Reuters, BBC and Channel 4.
The PopOffsets program has received some criticism on the grounds that populations of developing countries, although bearing high birth rates, are not responsible for creating high levels of CO2. OPT has, however, stressed that reduction of CO2 outputs by the wealthiest is a vital component of any strategy.