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Son of President Oden discusses carbon production trading at Convocation

<es the apple fall far from the tree? That was one of the answers some attempted to discover from Robert Oden III’s convocation last Friday, the son of Carleton President Robert Oden Jr. Oden III’s career field does not deal with admissions but emissions. Ben Barclay ‘09 had a different perspective of Oden III’s job. “Rob Oden III wakes up every morning, gets a cup of coffee, and proceeds to save the world,” he said in his introduction of Oden.
While Oden III is not a superhero, he helps to “save the world” as a Senior Commercialization Manager in the New York office of EcoSecurities, a company that trades carbon credits to help contain the world’s use of greenhouse gases. In his presentation, “The Business (?) of Saving the Planet (??)”, discussed how to trade and reduce carbon production in a way that was not unlike a “Birds and the Bees” talk. Oden said of the U.S. carbon markets, “Carbon is a little like teenage sex. A lot of people talking about it but there’s not really that much happening.” Much of Oden’s job involves explaining the carbon market and in what ways can companies reduce their emissions to become part of the market.

The carbon market is a way for companies to trade their reduction in carbon consumption for others to use in return for financing green projects. In the U.S., it is completely voluntary to participate in the carbon market since the U.S. has not ratified the Kyoto Protocol. During his presentation, Oden explained how carbon emissions can be reduced and Ecosecurities and other similar business’s role in this task.

Oden stressed that reducing the threat of global warming in the future required not just advancements in technology but behavior as well. He supported either “command and control” or “cap and trade” regulation to help reduce emissions. With “command and control”, the government would give detailed analysis to companies of what specific pollutants need to be reduced. To prove his point, he demonstrated how “command and control” significantly reduced acid rain in the Northeast and Midwest. “Cap and trade” involves reducing emissions by a certain amount each year and is the form of pollution reduction in which Ecosecurities specializes. With Ecosecurities’s help, companies who wish to offset their carbon productions receive verified remissions reductions (VER) credits. VER are standardized through the rules of various bodies such as the United Nations or the Voluntary Carbon Standard. Companies only receive VERs for the amount of reduction in emissions that is beyond what the government requires. Ecosecurities investigates the firm to determine how to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions and works with them to accurately keep up with their reductions. Ecosecurities buys the credits from a certain company and sells them at a higher price to several other companies.

Oden went on to discuss the various reasons why companies buy carbon credits. Many companies buy VERs in anticipation for the time that emissions will be regulated by the U.S. While many companies want to reduce emissions in their community, he stated that it made more sense to help offset greenhouse gases in areas where it could make more of an impact for less cost. Instead, companies should help out local communities with charitable benefits other than environment along with reducing emissions elsewhere. Ecosecurites has helped create carbon-reducing projects on several continents and has offices in over 20 countries.

“The silver lining is that I get to spend time realizing my dream of being a college professor.,” said Oden of his job explaining ways to create carbon offsets.

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